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