What Stories Are Coded in These Things Confiscated at the Border?

Inspiration  /  Things Organized
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This post features an ongoing personal project by photographer Tom Kiefer, whose images can take hours, and sometimes weeks to assemble. In his own words:

Working as a janitor from July 2003 until August 2014 I was greatly disturbed by the volume of food, clothing and personal belongings thrown away at a single U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility. For many of those years, I was allowed to collect and take the food transported by migrants, that was discarded during the first stages of processing, to our community food bank, an estimated sixty tons by the person who managed it.

The personal effects and belongings were another matter: Why would someone throw away a rosary or bible? Why would someone throw away a wallet? Why would a pair of shoes, for all intents and purpose “brand new”, be tossed in the trash?

El Sueno Americano (the American Dream) is a photographic essay of the discarded personal effects and belongings of migrants and smugglers apprehended by Border Patrol agents, discarded while being processed at a U.S Customs and Border Patrol facility near the U.S./Mexico border in southern Arizona. My intent is to explore the humanity of the migrants who risk their lives crossing through the desert and to create a personal connection for the viewer to a migrant and their hope for a better life.



 




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