Getting ready: Roxsana Hernández applies makeup before crossing the Mexican-American border in 2018. Three days later, she died in U.S. custody. (Photo: Verónica G. Cárdenas)

Topics: Justice | Human Rights

Photos give intimate look into migrants’ journeys

Verónica G. Cárdenas joined about 200 people who made their way north from Tapachula, Mexico

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In the Mexican town of Tijuana, just 30 minutes before claiming asylum at the American border, Roxsana Hernández fixed her makeup, surrounded by other trans migrant women. Mexican-American queer documentary photographer Verónica G. Cárdenas captured these last moments of freedom in 2018. Only three days later, Hernández died in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), reportedly from HIV-related complications.

Cárdenas has had intimate access to migrants. In the 2017 journey that culminated in the photo essay Migrant Caravans, Cárdenas joined about 200 migrants who made their way north from Tapachula, Mexico. Fewer than 100 completed the journey to the American border.

Cárdenas captured the dignity and normality of these people searching for a better life. “It’s not about how they’re different, but more about how we are the same.”

Amy van den Berg

Heading north: Asylum-seeking families on their way to Tijuana, Mexico, in May 2017 to seek asylum in the United States.
Family ties: José, 30, carries his son, Mateo. They were separated a month later at the border.
Dangerous journey: Andrea, 14, on a train known as La Bestia (“the beast”). Some migrants have been robbed, lost a limb or attacked along the way.
Teamwork: Men pass out snacks from a convenience store while the train is stopped in October 2017.

This photo essay first appeared in Broadview’s June 2020 issue.

Broadview is an award-winning progressive Christian magazine, featuring stories about spirituality, justice and ethical living. For more of our content, subscribe to the magazine today.

Verónica G. Cárdenas is a documentary photographer based in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas.

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