El Sueño Americano (The American Dream)
Project info

There is an inherently disturbing question behind many of the images presented in “El Sueño Americano” that defies logical and rational explanation: Why was all this thrown away?

Working as a janitor at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol processing facility in Southwest Arizona from July 2003 until August 2014, I was greatly unsettled by the volume of food, clothing and personal belongings being thrown away at the facility. For many of these years I was allowed to collect and deliver the food items carried by the migrants, which would have been discarded during the first stages of Border Patrol processing, to our community food bank. The supervisor at the food bank estimated the total amount of perfectly good and edible food items brought in was well over 60 tons.

The personal effects and belongings were another matter. Why would someone throw away a Bible or rosary? Why would someone throw away a wallet with someone’s identification and money? Why would a pair of shoes, for all intents and purposes “brand new”, be tossed in the trash?

America has been described as a “beacon of hope” to those seeking opportunity, democracy, equality, fairness and freedom of and from religion. Increasingly we find our nation under a political leadership that is enacting and escalating policies that are doing irreparable harm to non-citizens who many see as a direct threat to our society and way of life notwithstanding the fact that these people willingly provide labor in jobs we refuse to do; the meat processing plants, service industries such as hospitality and fast food, construction and agricultural harvest.

How we treat others is a reflection of who we are. When belts, shoelaces, socks, shoes, underwear, pants, shirts, keys, jackets, rosaries, Bibles, watches, billfolds, coins, jewelry, cell-phones, pre-paid telephone cards, food, soap, deodorant, medicine, condoms, birth control pills and blankets are considered non-essential personal property and discarded, their disposal is a clear and intentional act of dehumanization.