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Compelling Portraits of Illegal Immigrants Facing Deportation to Mexico

David Harriman

Mariposa is UK-based photographer David Harriman‘s series of migrants facing deportation after apprehension by US authorities—some had recently crossed the border and some had lived undocumented in the US for years. The portraits were made in Nogales, Mexico, where migrants are bussed from a processing center in Tucson and escorted to a pedestrian crossing at the Mariposa port of entry. Harriman set up a makeshift studio “on some scrub land”, shooting with a 4×5 camera. He gave each person a polaroid keepsake to take with them. With the assitance of No More Deaths charity, an organization that gives humanitarian aid to deported migrants, Harriman has captured people at this transitory spot since 2008. Harriman says of Mariposa:

The irony of the name of the crossing Mariposa (Butterfly) seemed to perfectly evoke the plight of those wishing to cross and seek a life elsewhere, only to be returned. Whilst animal life crosses this line with impunity, the consequences for humans is altogether different.

I think all along to me it was about the anonymity of the unknown latino migrant. The person who if they succeed in their mission enters this underworld of the undocumented whilst trying to remain invisible. Delivering food, washing dishes and mowing lawns. Not a new story by any means, and one documented in reportage before. However I looked to bring a stillness to the subjects—a dignity in adversity. Be it a bruised pride in some or a deflated resignation to ones fate in others. This is a low point in that journey. A time to reflect on the next move.

David Harriman

David Harriman

David Harriman

David Harriman

David Harriman

David Harriman

David Harriman

David Harriman

Thanks Jim Johnston for the tip.

  • Natalia

    Why do you have to use the word illegal when major news sources have acknowledge is not the right word to use. Besides that I like the project.