John came from Acapulco, Mexico, three years ago. He was 15. He enrolled in high school and excelled. He learned English quickly and made his father proud.
In October of 2008, John saw his school friends from his living-room window. He went out to see them. They had stolen a gas can from the back of a pickup truck. The police came. They arrested John, despite his friends’ protests. Instead of attending high school, John sat in jail.
Posting bail in immigration proceedings is complicated and expensive. The few bail bondsmen who will post an immigration bond require the full amount up front. John’s family struggled to raise the $3,500 needed for bail in addition to lawyer fees. Although the family’s lawyer knew that the charge could easily be dropped, he delayed the criminal trial to give them more time to raise the money before John was transferred to federal custody.
This video was part of my Master’s thesis at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Facing Deportation, a series of videos showing how the deportation process was affecting families, and graphics showing how the process worked.