Photo Series: JACC Convention “Reporting on the Border” Panel Archival Photographs

An asylum seeker attempts to make it to the US/MX border in order to begin processing for asylum. Mexican federal police attempt to stop this effort by the crowd behind him. 11/25/18
Asylum seekers cross the Tijuana river using a metal ramp. 11/25/18
Asylum seekers swing the gate open that Mexican federal police were trying to use to detain them. Above, the walkway into the US holds onlookers and border crossers. 11/25/18
CBP Special Response Team during the border shutdown on November 25, 2018.
Mexican federal police form a barricade to prevent more asylum seekers from reaching the US/MX border. People arriving at the US border have the right to request asylum without being criminalized, turned back, or separated from their children, according to the United Nations. This does not prevent the Mexican state from stopping people from reaching the US border. 11/25/18
After searching for a different way to enter the US away from the San Ysidro port of entry, asylum seekers were turned away using rubber bullets shot into Mexico by CBP. They make their way back in Tijuana as a US military helicopter flies overhead. 11/25/18
Teargas on the Tijuana river bank. 11/25/18
A portion of the border wall as seen from Tijuana. The art reads, “What about the Mexican dream?” 2/23/19
Border patrol as seen through the border wall in Playas de Tijuana. 2/23/19

“No Country May Claim Us” Exhibit


No Country May Claim Us is an exhibit that shows the experience of asylum seekers at the US/Mexico border —many of who came from Central America in the wave of caravans of the past two years— through the lenses of 14 documentary photographers and one filmmaker.

The 50 images and documentary film piece, all organized chronologically, offer a firsthand look into the recent displacement of Central American people; the militarization of the border, and immigration deterrence tactics used by the United States.

Hoping to show the effects of migratory persecution by both the US and Mexican government, the exhibit offers viewers an opportunity to empathize with those in exodus. The images tell the stories of the human condition under these circumstances. Their stories come from Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, and all over the world.

The first image starts on the journey north with hundreds of asylum seekers forming a caravan and leaving Honduras in early October 2018. Our photographers follow them through their arrival to the border city of Tijuana, where on November 25 of that year, Customs and Border Patrol agents on the US side of the border shot teargas at refugees in Mexico.

Images depict refugees’ lives inside Tijuana’s migrant shelters as they wait, trapped in a migratory purgatory, unable to return to their countries of origin, and unable to enter the US as a consequence of the Migrant Protection Protocol (Remain in Mexico Program).

The images compiled in No Country May Claim Us, show us the resilience and dignity of asylum seekers whose future in the US is uncertain, and provide us a snapshot of what migration is like for people of color in the modern age.


On display at Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco. M-F, 9AM-5:30PM.

Tour available.

Jenn Budd: Former US Border Patrol Agent

Jenn Budd, a former senior patrol agent for the US Border Patrol, met with us earlier this month.

Jenn’s life as a border patrol agent turned around completely when she began to speak out at Campo BP Station regarding the drug smuggling operation that her boss organized. She found herself alone, at 3AM, in a hail of gunfire after being commanded to patrol the area where she had seen drugs coming in. The occurrence of this gunfire and her orders to be there lead to her being offered a higher position at sector headquarters, in exchange for her silence.

She turned her badge and weapon in the next day. “You have to sell your soul at one point to just do the job.”

Today, her life consists of speaking out against those agencies that have harmed asylum seekers/migrants/immigrants, speaking out against an administration that has created a crisis via policies, volunteering at a shelter in San Diego, writing for Souther Border Community Coalition, and an ambassadorship for Define American (a “nonprofit media and culture organization that uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America.”) The full interview we have with her is a developing video piece.


Building Community: Contra Viento Y Marea (Against All Odds)

Ernesto winds down from the day at Contra Viento y Marea Comedor. He arrived in Tijuana on November 21st, 2018 with the migrant caravan that left Honduras on October 21st. He had always wanted to excel in his education, but the current state of his country did not have that opportunity for him. In his words, “Falta de oportunidades de estudio, porque soy un joven que busca oportunidades de superarme.” At first, he was seeking asylum in the United States; as time went on and more people were being denied and deported back to Central America, he decided to not pursue further for fear of returning to his homeland.
Contra Viento y Marea, a community space in Tijuana, emerged from a series of repressive government acts against the migrant/asylum seeking community. The full story can be read on their website “”. Today, it serves as a community diner, shelter, and community center. There is a garden on the roof, alongside a few tents where volunteers, migrants and collective-members reside.
Tents pitched on the roof. The growing number of asylum seekers, migrants, and volunteers has turned the roof space into an area for residency as well as gardening.
The start of a garden on the roof of Contra Viento y Marea. Volunteers from Jardin Lemniscata and the Contra Viento y Marea collective have started this gardening effort with the goal of “integrating the individual with the ecosystem to foment sustainable practices that prevent the unconscious, unmeasured growth of urbanization.”
A hallway Inside Contra Viento y Marea. Artwork by @ashlukadraws on Instagram.
A volunteer at Contra Viento Y Marea sweeps the floor after dinner is served at the communal kitchen/shelter space.
Flowers grow among the concertina wire next to the border wall at Friendship Park.
On the beaches at Playas De Tijuana, the border wall sits, corroded. “No obstacle can stop us from reaching our dreams. We are Mexicans. We are unstoppable.”
A tattered art piece, that used to be an American flag, stays tied to the border wall. Reinforcement that was installed on the US side in March, can be seen behind the bottom half of the flag.

Police Oversight: Update On SB 1421 Progress

On January 1st, 2019, SB 1421 went into effect. On paper, it was supposed to “lift the veil of secrecy” on police misconduct records that included sexual assault, lying during an investigation, falsification of reports, shootings, use of force, in-custody deaths, and other forms of misconduct. These kinds of records have already been public for years in many other states.

In application, this was met with pushback from police & sheriff unions across California. They tried to argue that the law should only be applicable to records made after the law went into effect, they tried to argue that police officers have “special vested secrecy rights in California that could never be taken away”, there were other arguments but judges struck them down.

Santa Ana Police Department tried to destroy the records, but a petition we organized and received support from the ACLU, media organizations, and community members sent a clear message to the department.

On April 23rd, the 90th day of the Santa Ana Police Department’s 90-day extension (used to process the record request), they let me know that they needed 120 more days.
Today, we became the first ones to review records that have undergone the required redaction process.

This post is about the small victories.

Here’s a selfie I took in Tijuana the day US CBP agents shot tear gas at everyone in proximity.


Documenting: Anti-SB54 Rally

Mikey Pesci, whose father brought him to the rally, sits alone.
Alexys Quero walks with protestors and is verbally assaulted.
An onlooker claps from her vehicle in support of the marchers.
Alexys Quero expresses himself in front of the Anti-SB 54 demonstrators.
Alexys Quero is confronted by protestors.
A demonstrator who identified himself as “America”. Prior to this photo being taken, “America” would ask me “Hey mexican, can you take my picture?”

Where They Walk: Scouting A Migration Trail With Border Angels

A gate with a bullet-ridden sign marks the trailhead for a path in the desert. People migrating from south of the border pass through here.
A cross and water gallon sit in the desert along the path as symbols for hope & life.
Perched on a rock, a first aid kit, toe warmer and tampons wait to be used.
US military presence at the border. Concertina wire being installed on the wall. Half a mile down, the wall stops.