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The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is escalating demands for the U.S. government to create a central process to allow unjustly deported people a meaningful Chance to Come Home. In partnership with 10 people fighting to return to the United States & alongside advocates around the world, this spring NIJC renews the call to repair harms of the U.S. immigration system and reunite families and communities.

Join us for the virtual film premiere and campaign launch

Thursday, June 1 @ 1 PM Central/2 PM Eastern

Register now




In April 2021, NIJC released Chance to Come Home: A Roadmap to Bring Home the Unjustly Deported, a white paper proposing a central system, using existing immigration laws and procedures, that would provide unjustly deported people a meaningful opportunity to apply to return. The paper shared the stories of 11 unjustly deported people, who demonstrated the harm deportation causes for U.S. communities and the ways the immigration system routinely fails to uphold due process and human rights. Since the paper’s release, six have returned home to reunite with their families and communities.

U.S. Navy veteran Howard Bailey, who returned to Virginia in summer 2022 — a decade after his deportation for a marijuana conviction — will tell his story in a short film by award-winning filmmaker Alex Rivera. The video will be released in May in conjunction with the launch of the Chance to Come Home campaign. Howard has joined the individuals highlighted below to call on the U.S. government to create a systemic remedy for the unjustly deported.

Headshot photo of a woman named Vanessa. She is standing on the beach and looking at the camera with a slight smile. She has long dark hair and a black and white collared shirt on. In the background you can see the ocean waves.


Entrepreneur, survivor of medical abuse in ICE detention, mother. Vanessa suffered unnecessary and noncensual gynecological medical procedures while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention and had no choice but to accept deportation to El Salvador in 2020, after 20 years living in the United States. Prior to her detention & deportation, she lived in North Carolina with her three children, including a son who lives with a physical disability and is wheelchair-bound.


Photo of a woman named Tina, who is smiling at the camera. She is wearing a tan blazer and turtle neck and has a sleek short bob haircut with bangs. Pink, white, and green flower garlands make up the background.


Teacher, mother, survivor. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection and lived in the U.S. for 20 years before ICE deported her based on a single conviction resulting from domestic abuse she suffered. She lived in Ohio and is separated from her two young children who live partly in the custody of her ex-partner.



Photo of Carlos smiling at the camera. He is wearing a baseball cap backwards and white t-shirt. In the background is a blue sky and blurred overhead view of buildings and trees.


Advocate, mentor, husband. Carlos lived in the U.S. for over 27 years and served a long criminal sentence he received as a child. His profound rehabilitation resulted in release on parole from the California parole board. But in 2019, ICE deported Carlos to Honduras where he faced potential death for renouncing his former gang membership. He now lives in another country, unable to return to obtain urgently needed medical care for his U.S. citizen wife, despite having won his immigration case on appeal.


Photo of a man named Goura. He is looking at the camera with a somber expression. He wears glasses with thick dark rims and you can just see the blue collar of his shirt. The background is plain white.


Devoted father and entrepreneur, living with a disability. Goura lived in the United States for 20 years, including nine years after he lost his asylum case during which he periodically checked in with ICE as required. He had no contact with the criminal legal system. In 2018, without warning, ICE deported Goura to Mauritania, separating him from his four children in Ohio. After his deportation, he was forced to flee to Senegal to escape potential anti-Black persecution and the threat of being enslaved in Mauritania.


Photo of Leonel, standing in front of a doorway and looking at the camera with a calm expression on his face.


Husband, father, breadwinner. ICE deported Leonel to Panama in 2012 primarily for marijuana possession, which is now legal under New York State law. He lived for over 30 years in the United States with a full life in New York City. Deportation separated him from his partner, daughter, and son.



Photo of a man named Ibrahima. He is looking at the camera with a slight smile on his face. He wears glasses, has short dark hair, and is wearing a black leather zip-up vest over a red sweater. The background of the photo is his kitchen.


Husband, father, breadwinner. Ibrahima lived in the United States for 20 years and sought asylum after fleeing dictatorship in Mali. After unjustly losing his asylum case due to inadequate legal representation, ICE allowed him to remain in Ohio under supervision with periodic check-ins. He had no contact with the criminal legal system. In 2019, after 10 years of supervision, ICE abruptly deported Ibrahima to Mali. Ibrahima left behind in Ohio his wife and two young sons, including one who suffers from sickle cell disease.


Photo of a woman named Assia, who is smiling at the camera. Her face is framed by curly brown hair, and she is wearing a bright blue shirt. The background is plain white.


Leader, mother, survivor. Assia is a domestic violence survivor who served 17 years of a criminal sentence in New York for actions taken under the coercive influence of an abusive ex-partner. A judge granted her release after passage of historic sentencing reform for domestic violence survivors, but nevertheless ICE deported her to Panama in 2021. Deportation separated her from her son and daughter, who live in New York — where Assia had lived since she was 15 years old.




Photo of the face of Samuel, who is looking calmly at the camera. He is wearing a collared shirt that is just visible, and the background is plain white.


Youth mentor, brother, son. Samuel lived in the United States for 40 years. ICE deported Samuel to Sierra Leone in 2019, despite Samuel’s significant rehabilitation from his drug addiction and the harsh sentence he served for drug convictions he received as a young Black man in Washington, D.C., at the height of the U.S. government’s “War on Drugs.” Deportation separated Samuel from his sister, brother, and mother who passed away in 2021.



Black and white headshot of Paul, who is looking at the camera with a neutral expression. He is wearing a wide-collared jacket over a light-colored collared shirt. The background is white.


Brother, son, New Yorker. ICE deported Paul to Haiti in 2022 after 35 years in the United States, even though Paul was not a Haitian citizen and had never visited the country. A federal judge ordered Paul’s deportation after a prolonged legal fight. He lived in Spring Valley, New York, where he worked as a financial advisor. Paul misses his parents, sister, brother, and church community.


Photo of Juan Carlos, looking at the camera with a calm smile. He has close-cropped dark hair and is wearing a gray shirt and a cross on a cord around his neck. The background is bright teal green.


Oldest brother, devoted son, proudly LGBTQ. ICE deported Juan Carlos in 2015 after an immigration judge failed to inform him of a law that protected him from being deported to a country where his life would be at risk as a gay man. He lived in California and Arizona for 30 years. Deportation separated Juan Carlos from his mother and younger siblings.



For inquiries about the Chance to Come Home campaign or to connect with advocates working to bring home the people featured in this document, contact Nayna Gupta, NIJC associate director of policy.

Read NIJC’s 2021 white paper proposing a Chance to Come Home at

Follow #ChancetoComeHome on Twitter for campaign updates!