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Tongan Deportees On the Struggle To Reinvent In A Place Both Home And Not

Watch VICE New Zealand's latest documentary, 'Deportees of Tonga: Gangsters in Paradise.'

In Deportees of Tonga: Gangsters in Paradise, VICE embeds with four Tongan nationals who have been sent back to the tiny island nation after serving prison time in New Zealand and the United States. Often coming from gang backgrounds, they struggle to reconnect with the culture, the language, and the people. They are haunted by the stigma of their criminal pasts, which casts a pall over their employment prospects and puts a barrier between them and their compatriots. Government support for returnees is non-existent, wages are low, and with Tonga in the midst of a methamphetamine crisis, the temptations to revert to the lives of crime they hoped to leave behind when they left prison are high.


As American deportee Sione Ngaue says, "We're judged before they even get to know us. We have a red 'X' against us."

Watch the full documentary here.