For the majority of her life, Janelie Rodriguez’ world centered around Buda and Central Texas.
A native of Mexico, Rodriguez’ family emigrated to the U.S. when she was two years old in order to find a better life.
But a 2017 incident changed that perspective, as Rodriguez, an undocumented resident who suffers from mental health issues, was transported more than 1,000 miles from home after she was ordered to be deported Dec. 7, 2018 to Mexico.
Rodriguez’ story is one of a growing number of similar cases where residents are now trying to find a new way of life in a land they are unfamiliar with.
Rodriguez, 26, is reportedly living with her grandparents in Cuernavaca, Mexico, which is 60 miles south of Mexico City, said Chito Vela, Janelie’s attorney.
However, it’s unknown if Rodriguez is receiving medication to treat her psychosis. Rodriguez was diagnosed with the condition when she was in her early 20’s.
Vela feared minimal contact with Mano Amiga, a local-area advocacy group, has not allowed Rodriguez the chance to obtain needed medications to treat her mental health issues.
“I think she is in danger in Mexico, and the evidence overwhelmingly shows that,” Vela said. “Our immigration system is cruel and unreasonable. But I do feel that if Janelie was released on a bond as she should, the outcome would have been different.”
Vela said when someone is deported, the individuals are escorted across the bridge where they are barred from re-entering the country. Rodriguez’ stepfather was able to meet her in Nuevo Laredo, where she took a plane to Cuernavaca.
But for those who do not have family in Mexico, their fate may be a little different, as the United States government does not provide deported individuals assistance once they cross the border.
Karen Munoz, founder of Mano Amiga, said the city of Buda, the Hays County Sherrif’s Office, mental health treatment, the criminal justice system and the United States failed Janelie.
“I have worked on cases with people that suffer from mental health issues in the past, but Janelie’s case was different in a lot of ways,” Vela said. “For someone like her, given her situation and how long she was in the United States, Mexico poses a lot of dangers. It will be difficult for her to get medication, but more importantly, she does not have the connections to get the treatment she needs. She is not in a place she calls home.”