Many Call Center Workers Are Deported Mexicans

They endure culture shock and wage drop in border towns

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 22, 2014 3:35 PM CDT

(Newser) – That voice on the phone may sound American, but it could be a deported Mexican working at a call center just south of the border. Thousands of Mexicans deported under the Obama administration are working at call centers in border cities like Tijuana, where their good English enables them to help consumers with questions about things like products, warranties, and deliveries, the AP reports. "If you're deported, more than likely you're going to get a job at a call center," says one who helps customers as far as Kentucky and Wisconsin. "The wages ain't much, but it's good enough for where we're at right now. You can't compare it to the United States."

Indeed, the typical $150 starting salary is a big drop for those who lived in the US—especially during the mid-2000s housing boom. And the sudden move can lead to various problems, like culture shock, depression, and hassles with police for lacking Mexican ID. Plus, many came to the attention of US authorities because they had committed a crime; some wear gang tattoos. "We have employees who, unfortunately, fell in with the wrong crowds and pursued lives of crime but, oddly enough, many of them are very loyal," says a center's marketing director. And more are coming: A Mexican faces deportation for running a brothel in Trenton, NJ, the Star-Ledger reports, and a "notorious serial plaintiff" who has sued over 800 LA-area businesses for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act has been deported to Mexico, reports ABC7.

In this Aug. 13, 2014 photo, an overall view of the Firstkontact Center, a call center in the northern border city of Tijuana, Mexico.
In this Aug. 13, 2014 photo, an overall view of the Firstkontact Center, a call center in the northern border city of Tijuana, Mexico.   (AP Photo/Alex Cossio)
In this Aug. 13, 2014 photo, men work the phones at  the Firstkontact Center, a call center in the northern border city of Tijuana, Mexico.
In this Aug. 13, 2014 photo, men work the phones at the Firstkontact Center, a call center in the northern border city of Tijuana, Mexico.   (AP Photo/Alex Cossio)
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