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Mexico deports American citizens who are in country illegally
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Mexico deports American citizens who are in country illegally

  • PublishedJune 11, 2024


After watching a TikTok, several VERIFY readers asked if Mexico deports American citizens who are in the country illegally. It does happen, but it’s not that common.

People from Mexico make up a large share of the unauthorized immigrant population living in the United States – 39% as of 2021, according to Pew Research Center.

There were 4.1 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico living in the U.S. that year, though this number was the lowest it had been since the 1990s, Pew said.

But media outlets have reported over the years that many Americans, some of whom are retirees, are also living in Mexico illegally. 

After watching a TikTok video that claims the Mexican government is deporting American citizens who are in the country illegally, VERIFY readers Teresa and Linda reached out to ask if that really happens. 

THE QUESTION

Does Mexico deport American citizens who are in the country illegally?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, Mexico deports American citizens who are in the country illegally, but it’s not common.

WHAT WE FOUND

Mexico does deport American citizens who are in the country illegally, according to government data and Rafael Fernández de Castro, Ph.D., the director of UC San Diego’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies.

But “the deportation of American citizens is not that common,” Fernández de Castro said. Data from Mexico’s government also show that it deports citizens of other countries more frequently than American citizens. 

A report published by Mexico’s government shows 8,612 total instances of deportation during the first three months of 2024. Nearly 90% of those deportation instances involved citizens of Guatemala and Honduras. 

During that same period, there were 96 instances of American citizens being deported, including people from Puerto Rico, the report shows. 


The Mexican government also has deportation numbers online dating back more than a decade

VERIFY looked at data for all of 2023, which show 444 instances of American citizens being deported. American citizens were the ninth most deported nationality that year, trailing behind citizens of Latin American countries such as Guatemala and Honduras. 


Like the United States, Mexico does allow noncitizens to stay in the country for extended periods of time if they apply for a temporary resident visa or permanent residency status. 

Foreigners who are granted temporary resident visas are allowed to stay in Mexico for more than 180 days and up to four years, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) says

According to the MPI, foreigners can also become permanent residents, which means they are allowed to remain in Mexico indefinitely and work.

People who can apply for permanent residency in Mexico include retirees or pensioners who are financially self-sufficient, family members of a permanent resident and those who have lived in Mexico as a temporary resident for four years, among others, the MPI says. 

Some news outlets have reported over the years that a significant number of Americans are living in Mexico without proper documents. 

WBUR, a public radio station in Boston, reported in 2017 that about 1 million Americans were living in Mexico, with many of them doing so illegally.

But the punishments for Americans living illegally in Mexico are believed to be lax. As long as people have not committed a crime, “they are usually not deported,” but instead are “required to pay a fine and get legal documentation to stay in Mexico as soon as possible,” the Washington Post reported in 2014.

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