On March 25th, 2018, an estimated 2,000 migrants from Central America began a perilous, month-long journey from Tapachula, Mexico to the northernmost border town of Tijuana, seeking a new life in the United States.
Whether they were hoping to be reunited with family, fleeing murderous gangs or simply trying to give their children a better, safer life, the group moved up the long, hard 1,800 mile road towards what they hoped would become a brighter future.
Over the weeks-long trip, the number of migrants dwindled to under 200. Some settled in parts of southern and central Mexico, some turned back, and sadly, some succumbed to the many dangers of the trek.
Upon reaching the El Chaparral border crossing, the members of the caravan were told they should be prepared to wait several days before the United States would hear their claims for asylum.
And so, what should have been a celebration of the end of a long and tiring journey turned into days of added doubt and anxiety. It was a final grueling hurdle to overcome, but for the members of the caravan, there was no other option.
When I arrived, the migrants, mostly women and children, were sleeping on cold, wet concrete, wrapped in donated blankets, as rain poured through the makeshift tarps they had set up to protect themselves from the elements. Battling illness and fatigue, they vowed to stay until they exercised their right to apply for asylum in the United States.
I taped a white piece of paper to the border wall and asked if anyone would be willing to be photographed.
My intention was to remove them from the media portrayal of an angry mob of immigrants beating down the doors of America. The word “caravan” had been holding a negative connotation in my mind for being dismissive of the individuals and families who each had their own stories to tell.
I soon came to realize that amongst the group, “caravan” had become synonymous with “family" and for so many of the people who left their homes and relatives behind to embark on this trip, the security, companionship and relationships forged within this group were the only way they could have survived.
As they began to hear their names called for processing into the United States, the group slowly began to separate. You could see the fear in their eyes as they packed the few belongings they had and headed down the long gated walkway towards the US. They had traveled so far together, and now, this final leg would be done alone.
The uncertainty of what could happen next weighed heavily on everyone I spoke with. Would their pleas for asylum be heard, or, after all they’d been through, would they simply be sent back to the life they were so desperately trying to leave behind? Would mothers be separated from their children? Would they ever see them again? And what, should they be accepted into America, would lie ahead in a land that was completely foreign?
These are the members of the migrant caravan.