Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Clutching their possessions, recently deported immigrants stand and pray in the Hotel of the Deported Migrant in Mexicali, Mexico. A fire-scarred room used to be a restaurant but now serves as a dorm where they can sleep on the floor.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Sergio Tamai, right, the founder and director of the Hotel of the Deported Migrant, admonishes a guest for being drunk. Tamai doesn't evict rule breakers, but they're tagged "fallen angels" and must sleep in the chilly, noisy street-level dorms. "Angels" who behave are given blankets and meals on the upper floor.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

On a night when the lights stopped working, Sergio Tamai works by flashlight in his office at the Hotel of the Deported Migrant. He's compiling a work schedule for the men who want to stay longer than the three days they can stay for free.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Street light filters into the crowded upstairs hallway at the Hotel of the Deported Migrant. One man's face is illuminated by his cellphone as he talks to a relative in the United States.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Gerardo Cano, 52, sweeps the dormitory hallway in the Hotel of the Deported Migrant in Mexicali, Mexico. He lived 36 years in Southern California and admits to having led the life of a drug dealer. After years in prison, he was deported. He now says he's given up trying to return to the U.S. "We all made errors," he said about himself and other deported immigrants at the shelter.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Mario Ramos, 45, stirs a steaming pot of beans for the breakfast meal at the Hotel of the Deported Migrant. His deportation brought to an end his nearly two decades living and working in Orange County, Calif.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Christian Rivera, 25, sobs during a breakfast blessing at the Hotel of the Deported Migrant. He said he was crying because his wife called this morning to say she had lost her job at a Wal-Mart in Seattle. Now there's no income for her and their 7-year-old son. Rivera was deported for failure to pay court fees for a traffic ticket and deported again when he tried to sneak back into the U.S.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Pedro Soto, left, 50, and Juan Marsadiego, 38, wash dishes at the Hotel of the Deported Migrant. Marsadiego was a dishwasher in a Beverly Hills restaurant. Soto was a mechanic in Phoenix, and he left his U.S.-born wife and three children behind.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Juan Jose Torres listens to the jingle of a few coins donated by a northbound driver at the border crossing in Mexicali, Mexico. He can keep half of the money from the sealed can; the rest goes to the Hotel of the Deported Migrant, where he lives. Torres was an electrician in McAllen, Texas, before being deported for undisclosed reasons.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Sergio Tamai is founder and director of the Hotel of the Deported Migrant in downtown Mexicali. In years past it was the Hotel Centenario, one of the finest lodgings in the Mexican border town 115 miles east of San Diego. Tamai is a businessman who is fixing up the run-down building with his own money and some donations. He allows deported migrants to stay for free and help with maintenance.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Jose Quijada, 22, carries his bedroll through the red-light district on his way to the Hotel of the Deported Migrant. The Central American was deported from Los Angeles and had been sleeping in a park until he heard of the hotel.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Two halves of a broken mirror help Mario Ramos, 45, shave in the Hotel of the Deported Migrant. After being deported, the former cook at a Laguna Beach restaurant has made do at the shelter.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

A man recently deported from the U.S. reads his Bible before bedding down in the Hotel of the Deported Migrant. Some migrants have pop-up tents that they used before they were evicted from a nearby park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

"Fallen angels," men who have broken the rules at the Hotel of the Deported Migrant, sleep in Area 2.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

The former Dollar Night Club is now a chilly and foul-smelling space for the "fallen angels" -- men who have broken the rules against being under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the Hotel of the Deported Migrant.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Mario Ramos, 45, poses in the pantry that he once oversaw when he was chief cook at the Hotel of the Deported Migrant. He said that before his deportation, he was a cook at an upscale restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. At the shelter, he cooked 100 to 200 meals a day for free -- and with mostly donated food.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

On a night when the lights were out, a deportee sits by candlelight outside his pop-up tent at the Hotel of the Deported Migrant.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

The Hotel of the Deported Migrant, formerly one of downtown Mexicali's most elegant lodgings, sits two blocks from the border. It's a refuge for the hundreds of illegal immigrants who are deported from the United States each week.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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Mexicali’s Hotel of the Deported Migrant

El Hotel Centenario was once among the grandest in Mexicali, Mexico, in an era when the downtown arcades and honky-tonks drew throngs of round-the-clock revelers. It’s now El Hotel del Migrante Deportado – the Hotel of the Deported Migrant — a temporary home for the rising population of people being deported into the border city. The occupants blame America for exploiting their labor, then discarding them. But they’re also are haunted by their mistakes, accomplices to their own downfall.

Read Richard Marosi’s story,  “In Mexicali, a Haven for Broken Lives”

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