US

ICE Air

Behind the scenes on a deportation flight

The men shuffle their chained feet in a line across a lonely tarmac, one by one. This may be the last time they touch US soil.

These men, like all passengers on ICE Air flights for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, have one-way tickets.

Edmund D. Foundation for CNN

They are being deported.

Tawanda Scott Sambou

In the past year, the United States deported more than 110,000 people from 185 countries on charter and commercial flights.

Tawanda Scott Sambou

Most flights were to countries in Central America. Guatemala was ICE Air’s top international destination.

CNN

An average of six deportation flights arrive in Guatemala every week. Local officials are bracing for an influx as the Trump administration vows to crackdown on illegal immigration.

Edmund D. Foundation for CNN

On this flight, there are 116 passengers — all Guatemalan nationals with deportation orders. Less than half have been convicted of criminal charges.

Tawanda Scott Sambou

As the plane climbs to 33,000 feet, cheering starts. But many detainees are silent, their faces reflecting a sea of emotions, regret and relief.

Edmund D. Foundation for CNN

On arrival in Guatemala, the deportees receive a warm welcome. A few hours ago, most were in handcuffs.

Edmund D. Foundation for CNN

I want to remind you that big or small, rich or poor, whatever you are, countryman, this is our homeland. Welcome.

Guatemalan official