Scenes From a Border Tragedy of Our Own Making (Photo Essay)

September 10, 2019
22 photos
  • Asylum seekers wait in limbo in Matamoros, Mexico, a stone’s throw from the U.S.-Mexico border. On the other side is Brownsville, Texas. Shade is a precious commodity at the Matamoros encampment. (All photos by Michael Nigro)

  • Families in Matamoros wait for the sun to settle and hope for a donated dinner delivery.

  • A mother fans her napping child.

  • Many women are still breastfeeding their children in the camp, as baby formula is hard to come by.

  • Lunch is frequently delivered to the camp by religious organizations.

  • Eating what is available.

  • The United States immigration system is functioning exactly the way it is supposed to — it is designed to make people suffer.

  • Children were separated from their parents on the U.S. side of the border when they made their case for asylum. Many were put into what they refer to as a hielera, which translates to “icebox.”

  • Donated toiletries and self-care products are in constant demand.

  • Many try to find some sense of normalcy in the camp.

  • Morning routine.

  • The children in Matamoros are in acute danger of being kidnapped.

  • One of the volunteer lawyers, Claire Noone from Colorado, tells the migrants about their rights.

  • Inside a resource center where Lawyers for Good Government would hold sessions to prepare asylum seekers for upcoming immigration court hearings in Texas. The center quickly became a target for the cartels and was too dangerous to keep open. It was closed down after two days.

  • Attorney Lillian Gonzalez works with a mother holding her child with special needs.

  • Atenas Burrola, another volunteer lawyer for Lawyers for Good Government.

  • Texas-based lawyer Jodi Goodwin reads letters that Americans have written to the children in the camp.

  • “I am so sorry you are being detained at the border…” written in both Spanish and English.

  • Normalizing.

  • A journalist shows videos of Americans protesting President Donald Trump’s policies in New York City. They had no idea people across the United States were doing this. They were overjoyed.

  • A rare glimpse of Federales officers at the border area.

  • The fence-cum-clothesline separates the plaza and the Rio Grande River, where many asylum seekers must pay the cartels to bathe and wash their clothes.