Migrant Life at the U.S. Border: 24 Hours in Photos

Thousands of people from the migrant caravans are living along the southern border, waiting to be heard by the U.S. authorities.

One thing that has really struck me while covering the migrant caravans is how steadfast people are in their faith that things will work out for them—their belief that God will see them through these hardships. They possess this seemingly unshakable hope for their future. I’ve watched as this self-organizing community comes together to meet the needs that arise, from cooking to child care to the logistics of doling out donated goods. I’ve witnessed their demonization, being physically attacked by both the U.S. government and violent nationalists. Yet they remain resolute that their dignity and human rights will be recognized.

On the Mexico side of the border at Tijuana, I documented 24 hours of daily life for the people of the exodus, as they wait in several refugee camps to be processed by U.S. or Mexican authorities.

After a few days of heavy rain, the conditions inside the makeshift refugee center set up in the Benito Juárez Stadium in Tijuana forced Mexican authorities to find new quarters for the migrant refugees. Thousands of people were moved more than 11 miles south to an enclosed concrete concert venue called Barretal. But several hundred refused to leave and are now living in a camp outside the stadium. This child is from that camp.

To remain closer to the border, hundreds of people refused to be relocated and are now camping in the street on Cinco de Mayo Avenue.

People at the Barretal refugee camp pass the time playing cards.

A man cuts his toenails in the street outside of the Benito Juárez Stadium in Tijuana. Authorities have removed the portable toilets, and there are reports that federal police have told local businesses not to let the refugees use the bathrooms.

A volunteer from San Diego delivering supplies to the refugee camp Cinco de Mayo Avenue is turned away by Mexican Federal Police. Authorities have actively tried to stop people from bringing in aid as they’re pressuring refugees to move to the Barretal camp 11 miles farther inland and away from the border.

David, a 22-year-old from Guatemala, talks with reporters outside of the Benito Juárez Stadium in Tijuana. He is part of a group that self-organized to handle intake and distribution of aid materials in the refugee camps in response to reports that police were confiscating donated goods and of people peddling the donated materials on the streets.

A child with a puppy under the overpass where the migrants on hunger strike were camped. Several people went on hunger strike to pressure the Mexican government and raise awareness of the U.S. illegally denying their right to seek asylum.

People waiting in the cold and rain outside of an overcapacity shelter in Playas—directly next to the U.S. border—are being asked to get into vans to be taken to the Barretal camp farther from the border.

When asked to get into vans, many were hesitant to trust where the police were going to take them.

A woman with her three children eat dinner next in the unofficial Cinco de Mayo Avenue refugee camp outside the stadium.

Another night passes as people wait for their numbers to be called to seek asylum or wait for their visas in Mexico to be approved so they can seek work there.