Along the US and Mexico Border

Nogales Border Crossing – Images by Pat Shannahan

I went on a recent trip to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, with a reporter from our sister newspaper La Voz. We spent a day working on a story about unaccompanied minor immigrants and the next day we went out with an officer from Grupo Beta. They are a Mexican government agency that assists immigrants in trouble. In addition to giving food and water to people recently deported to Mexico, they can help pay for bus tickets home if the people agree to give up trying to cross the border. We rode with one of their officers out into the desert outside Nogales as he patrolled looking for people geting ready to cross the border illegally. Grupo Beta officers try to talk the people out of crossing but won’t physically detain anyone. They don’t carry weapons of any kind, and the guy we were out with had been shot three separate times over his long career with the agency. We rode next to the border for over an hour before we found a group of around 8 people. They tried crossing earlier in the day but turned back when they saw Border Patrol agents on horseback in the area. I imagine the last thing they thought they were going to see out in the desert was me with my cameras and microphone. I think they were so open with talking with us because meeting a reporter and photographer in the middle of nowhere was so unexpected. I concentrated on a mom her teenage son. They were trying to get to San Francisco. They had some friends there they thought could help them find work. In her village in Mexico she said she washed clothing for a living. The two guides in the group spent time making fun of me, which was fine with me. After a while they all stood up and said they were going to try to cross again. At the time I thought we were still a ways from the fence, to my surprise we were only about 200 yards from the border. The border fence was a mix of vehicle barriers, broken barbed wire and broken sections of tall fence. It only took them a few seconds to cross the border and disappear into the tall grasses and trees.

I added a few of these images to my larger collection of photos shot along the U.S./ Mexico border.

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