It’s easy to see how scaling the border fence into Arizona or crossing the Rio Grande into Texas is a gamble well worth the risk—the promise of the unknown often outweighs the inescapable certitude of what resides in a migrant’s country of origin. But from the moment their feet land on American soil, migrants enter a world of enforced anonymity; they’re no closer to the America they imagined than when they began the long journey north.

When even the strongest men and women have no voice, how are they supposed to experience “liberty and justice for all?” President Barack Obama’s executive order was a significant step toward mending a failed immigration policy—Obama’s mission is to give a voice to those willing to step out of the shadows. But there is still so much to be done.

These images are three chapters of the immigration story that I have witnessed in the past few years. The story begins with daily life in Ejido Hermosillo, located on the Mexico-Arizona border in northern Sonora. The second chapter takes place between the migrant house Senda de Vida in Reynosa, Mexico, and the parched ranch lands of Brooks County, TX. Brooks County is just north of the Texas–Mexico border. Since 2012, residents have uncovered the remains of over 250 dead migrants in that area. Finally, the third chapter reflects on the experience of those living in the shadow of their undocumented status in the city of Irving, TX.

—Brandon Thibodeaux


Editors’ note: In conjunction with the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2017 (running until December 20), we are highlighting some of our previous winners’ and finalists’ work. Thibodeaux’s project ”When Morning Comes was selected as a finalist in the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2014.