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Deadly Divide: Moving photos show the human cost of border enforcement


Deadly Divide is a multimedia collaboration between Radio Producer Jasmin Lopez and Photographer Brandon Thibodeaux, with music by Diana Gameros, exploring the human cost of “prevention through deterrence,” a border enforcement strategy introduced during the Clinton administration.

Click the box above to view the photo documentary.         Click here to listen to the radio show. 

 

Artist Statement from photographer Brandon Thibodeaux

It is easy to see how scaling the border fence into Arizona or crossing the Rio Grande into Texas is a gamble well worth the risk – that the promise of the unknown outweighs the inescapable certitude of what resides in a migrant’s country of origin.  But from the moment their feet land on American soil, they enter a world of enforced anonymity, no closer to the America of the imaginings than when they began the long journey north.

Until President Obama’s speech on November 20th, I believed this to be the biggest sacrifice, for where is liberty and justice for even the strongest of men and women when they have no voice? His executive order is a significant step toward mending a failed immigration policy by giving back that voice to those willing to step out of the shadows.  But there is still so much to be done.

These images are from three different chapters of the immigration story that I have witnessed in the past few years.  They begin with daily life in Ejido Hermosillo located in northern Sonora along the Mexico/Arizona border.

The second chapter takes place in the between the migrant house Senda de Vida in Reynosa, Mexico, and the parched ranchlands of Brooks County, TX, just north of the Texas–Mexico border, where the remains of over 250 migrants have been discovered since 2012.

And finally, the third chapter reflects the experience of those living in the shadows of their undocumented status in city of Irving, located beside Dallas, TX.

When you live in Texas, immigration is never far off your radar. We live with it in nearly every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, the left–right political paradigm muddles the debate so much that there is very little room left for considering the humanity of the issue.

When a mother chooses one of her three children to take with her to the U.S., based on its size and how much it will cost to feed it, that amount of desperation and mental certitude will overcome any barrier, no matter how tall you choose to build it.

I ask what man or woman, son or daughter, would risk their lives to leave their home and family if they had a choice? People aren’t coming because we live in the Promised Land but because the promise for their land can no longer be seen. I think what we misunderstand is ourselves.

 The centuries of one-sided foreign policy that Latin American countries have been subjected to for the advantage of the developed world are the root cause for the civil and economic unrest that people are fleeing. Until we take responsibility for our role and work to address the root cause of immigration and come to terms with the responsibility we have for those already here the debate will always be one of reactionary measures.  And in the meantime people will still be dying in our deserts.

Brandon Thibodeaux | Photographer | MJR

Dallas, Texas

brandonthibodeaux.com

wearemjr.com

 

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