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Project January 2, 2019

Raped and Deported: One Man's Struggle To Live and Work in Montana

Audemio Orózco Ramirez. Image by Elliott Woods. Montana, 2018.
Audemio Orózco Ramirez. Image by Elliott Woods. Montana, 2018.

Audemio Orózco-Ramírez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, worked as a ranch hand near Circle, Montana, praying every day for just a little more time, for some legal miracle that would relieve him of his constant dread. He'd been arrested in 2013 and taken to a county jail where he was raped by inmates, leading to a $125,000 settlement that never diminished his humiliation. Since then, Audemio had been checking in with ICE monthly, but under the Obama administration, non-criminal immigrants like him were not a priority. Everything changed with Trump's election.

A few months later, Audemio was in handcuffs, heading to an ICE facility in Colorado, where he remained incarcerated until April, when he was finally deported. Now he's back in his native Michoacán, where he has not lived since he was a teenager. Michoacán has grown violent in the years of his absence. His brother-in-law, also a farm worker, was recently kidnapped and beheaded. Audemio has already been hijacked once since his return, barely escaping with his life. He fears the cartels will conscript him. But his greatest fear is that he'll never see his family again.

Audemio, a devoted husband and father of eight, faces a new and terrifying life alone, separated from his loved ones by physical and legal barriers that are as insurmountable as they are arbitrary. This story is about Audemio's long, brutal struggle to live and work in peace in Norteamérica.


teal halftone illustration of a family carrying luggage and walking


Migration and Refugees

Migration and Refugees