Migrant families have trekked across countries in search of a safer life for themselves and their loved ones for many years. Coming from corruption, violence and murder, people must do what is best for themselves and their dependents. They must seek asylum.
The United States and Mexico border is a place of waiting and uncertainty. Folks wait for their case number to be called, but this can take several months to many years. Rosie Hin (@rosiehin), a photojournalist who documents the struggles of those seeking asylum at the border, sent a photo to Foto Femme United which depicts a small piece of paper with a number handwritten on it. When Rosie comments on this photo, she says, “What seems like just a small piece of paper with a number holds so much weight in determining a migrant's future and possibly life or death, as they await their next chance to interview for an opportunity”. People standby and hope, all while trying to find shelter at border cities. Refugee camps are overcrowded and have limited funds for food, essentials and medical supplies. Once a case is finally called, they must present themselves. At this time, asylum seekers are often asked for proof that they were forced to leave their dangerous home in search of safety. This proof must be substantial evidence. Refugees are fleeing home and are unable to bring essentials, let alone potential evidence for their case.
Some cannot afford to wait. Rather, they make the long journey through the mountains and desert in order to arrive on the U.S. side of the border. Some do not make it due to heat, dehydration and lack of supplies. Some are even taken by Border Patrol agents where they are detained and ultimately deported. There are also those who are never heard from again.
For those who make the trek through the unforgiving mountains and desert, certain supplies are essential. Border Angels is an organization dedicated to defending the rights of migrants and refugees. One of their services is what they call “Water Drops”. On routes traveled by migrants, volunteers leave gallons of water alongside these avenues. According to the Border Angles website, “Thousands of daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, spouses and friends have died, the main cause being dehydration. Many more have gone missing and their remains are still yet to be found”. The team and trained volunteers leave early in the morning to head into the mountains and desert of Southern California. They carry large, 30+ pound bags in order to leave water and supplies for migrants passing through. Border Angels writes, “This work is done in memory of all people that have lost their lives in search of a better one”.
Rosie Hin began photographing in 2012 and eventually learned to “appreciate and acknowledge” when she took a photo that told a story. Hin states she will never forget the feeling she gets “when a person is moved by an emotional story [she tells in her work] that doesn’t necessarily bring feelings of joy, but tells a necessary story”.
Some of Hin’s featured photographs depict areas where migrants can get assistance from coyotes in order to cross the border or climb the dangerous border wall. Others display views into shelters and how folks survive there. Some of these shelters include Playas shelter, Movimiento Juventud in Tijuana and Embajadores de Jesus, where a Haitian migrant uses repurposed items to cook. Hin comments on the creative use of repurposed objects, “Everything has a new life to it”. Others show folks waiting in line for medical exams from Doctors Without Borders, a nonprofit organization bringing medical attention to those without access to it. Another photograph portrays a child’s swing made from scraps. As Hin reflects on this photo, she explains that there is “a symbol of youth that exists no matter where one is relocated”.