Finalist
Jon Lowenstein
USA

Shadow Lives USA


 

Since 2000, I have photographed the collective experience of the one of the largest trans-national migrations in world history, from Central America and Mexico to the United States and back. I’ve witnessed the crushing poverty and social violence that propel migrants from their home countries and the often-deplorable conditions these folks face once they arrive in the United States. I’ve slept under shanty houses with men on their way to the ‘promised land’, and crossed ‘illegally’ into the United States. I’ve also watched a bus driver struggle for his life, just minutes after being shot on the streets of Guatemala City.

 

Tomas, who has been working day labor jobs in the Albany Park neighborhood for more than 10 years, wanted his picture taken in the Juan Diego Worker’s Center his way. Braving the pouring rain, he stripped down to his underwear and went to the middle of the parking lot, where I took his photo. Tomas wanted a nude picture to show his connection to the center, for which the workers had struggled for more than three years.  Ald  Margaret Laurino fought the workers the whole time.  But, with the help of advocacy groups and a concerted community education campaign, the building opened in October, 2004. 

During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
Tomas, who has been working day labor jobs in the Albany Park neighborhood for more than 10 years, wanted his picture taken in the Juan Diego Worker’s Center his way. Braving the pouring rain, he stripped down to his underwear and went to the middle of the parking lot, where I took his photo. Tomas wanted a nude picture to show his connection to the center, for which the workers had struggled for more than three years. Ald Margaret Laurino fought the workers the whole time. But, with the help of advocacy groups and a concerted community education campaign, the building opened in October, 2004. During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country. Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
Thousands of Mexican and Central American migrants are returned to their home countries each year by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE. The agency operates about 48 flights each week to deport people from the United States back to their country of origin. Depending on the crime the migrants commit will determine whether or not they will be shackled throughout the flight. The flights originate from various parts of the United States. Approximately 400,000 people were deported this past year.
Thousands of Mexican and Central American migrants are returned to their home countries each year by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE. The agency operates about 48 flights each week to deport people from the United States back to their country of origin. Depending on the crime the migrants commit will determine whether or not they will be shackled throughout the flight. The flights originate from various parts of the United States. Approximately 400,000 people were deported this past year.
A young man lies on top of his brother's dead body after he was gunned down while exiting the wake of a friend who had been murdered two days earlier. The murders happened in Guatemala City’s Zone 6. 

Guatemala is one of the most violent countries in the world. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported last year that Guatemala had the highest murder rate in all of Latin America, with 70 homicides per 100,000 people.  The country’s murder rate was about eight times higher than the global average and close to four times higher than the murder rate in the Americas.
A young man lies on top of his brother's dead body after he was gunned down while exiting the wake of a friend who had been murdered two days earlier. The murders happened in Guatemala City’s Zone 6. Guatemala is one of the most violent countries in the world. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported last year that Guatemala had the highest murder rate in all of Latin America, with 70 homicides per 100,000 people. The country’s murder rate was about eight times higher than the global average and close to four times higher than the murder rate in the Americas.
Migrant workers plant cabbage near McAllen, Texas. These workers had no idea how much they were going to be paid for the day.
Migrant workers plant cabbage near McAllen, Texas. These workers had no idea how much they were going to be paid for the day.
Training the Special Response Team of the Border Patrol. The SRT or Special Response Team is a relatively new wing of the United States Border Patrol designed to be a more militaristic, SWAT style operational group that can enforce border policy. 

During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
Training the Special Response Team of the Border Patrol. The SRT or Special Response Team is a relatively new wing of the United States Border Patrol designed to be a more militaristic, SWAT style operational group that can enforce border policy. During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country. Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
An outdoor prayer service in a poor neighborhood in Reynosa, Mexico. Many migrants from Central and Southern Mexico make it to the Northern Mexican border with the United States with the hopes of making it to the ‘other side,’ but instead get caught in a state of limbo. The average Mexican earns just $4 per day and has little or no safety net. Family is of utmost importance and the majority Catholic country takes its religion seriously. At this prayer service the parishioners were praying for a child who was seriously ill.  

During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
An outdoor prayer service in a poor neighborhood in Reynosa, Mexico. Many migrants from Central and Southern Mexico make it to the Northern Mexican border with the United States with the hopes of making it to the ‘other side,’ but instead get caught in a state of limbo. The average Mexican earns just $4 per day and has little or no safety net. Family is of utmost importance and the majority Catholic country takes its religion seriously. At this prayer service the parishioners were praying for a child who was seriously ill. During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country. Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
At the inauguration of the first Back of the Yards Worker Center, 4314 S. Hermitage Ave., the Latino Union of Chicago held a barbecue that cousins Rosa and Ruben Solis enjoyed.  The Solis family lives in the front of the house, while the worker center is located at the back.  The center was founded by the Latino Union to offer day laborers an alternative to the many temporary employment agencies that dot the city and offer their employees minimum wage and no benefits.  The worker center has since closed, but the Latino Union still advocates for Latino immigrants on Chicago’s South Side.

During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
At the inauguration of the first Back of the Yards Worker Center, 4314 S. Hermitage Ave., the Latino Union of Chicago held a barbecue that cousins Rosa and Ruben Solis enjoyed. The Solis family lives in the front of the house, while the worker center is located at the back. The center was founded by the Latino Union to offer day laborers an alternative to the many temporary employment agencies that dot the city and offer their employees minimum wage and no benefits. The worker center has since closed, but the Latino Union still advocates for Latino immigrants on Chicago’s South Side. During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country. Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
Migrants slip into the Rio Grande on their way to the United States. This group made it through without being detained.  Pedro Mendoza, lower right corner, lives in Reynosa and has worked as a low-level coyote. I connected with him through a man I met in Chicago at Juan Diego Democratic Worker Center. We went down to the border and met up with Pedro. Pedro had passed more than 20 people at one time and sometimes had to save people who were drowning in the river or the canals that the migrants must pass over in that stretch of the border. Before he would connect me with the migrants we sat down in his room and talked until dawn one night. He posed very challenging questions about my role in the experience. “What will you do when two people fall in and are drowning? Will you just take pictures or will you jump in and help me to save these people.” When he crossed people he received $100 per person. In 2003, when I crossed he was going over to the other side to work in construction in Edinburgh, Texas. 

During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
Migrants slip into the Rio Grande on their way to the United States. This group made it through without being detained. Pedro Mendoza, lower right corner, lives in Reynosa and has worked as a low-level coyote. I connected with him through a man I met in Chicago at Juan Diego Democratic Worker Center. We went down to the border and met up with Pedro. Pedro had passed more than 20 people at one time and sometimes had to save people who were drowning in the river or the canals that the migrants must pass over in that stretch of the border. Before he would connect me with the migrants we sat down in his room and talked until dawn one night. He posed very challenging questions about my role in the experience. “What will you do when two people fall in and are drowning? Will you just take pictures or will you jump in and help me to save these people.” When he crossed people he received $100 per person. In 2003, when I crossed he was going over to the other side to work in construction in Edinburgh, Texas. During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country. Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
A Mexican migrant crosses the Rio Grande on his way to the United States near McAllen, Texas. Although, Arizona has become more infamous for its desert crossings and the high numbers of deaths from exposure, migrants do die in the shifting waters of the Rio Grande River. These migrants arrived safely at their destination.

During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
A Mexican migrant crosses the Rio Grande on his way to the United States near McAllen, Texas. Although, Arizona has become more infamous for its desert crossings and the high numbers of deaths from exposure, migrants do die in the shifting waters of the Rio Grande River. These migrants arrived safely at their destination. During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country. Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
Sixty-four members of the National Socialist Movement, commonly known as Neo-Nazis, held an anti-immigration rally on the steps of the capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin. The Neo-Nazis were separated from counter demonstrators by a ring of mounted police and state troopers in riot gear and a double row of fencing. Spouting anti-immigrant rhetoric, they demanded that President Bush pull U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and place them on the Mexican border with orders to shoot to kill.

During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
Sixty-four members of the National Socialist Movement, commonly known as Neo-Nazis, held an anti-immigration rally on the steps of the capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin. The Neo-Nazis were separated from counter demonstrators by a ring of mounted police and state troopers in riot gear and a double row of fencing. Spouting anti-immigrant rhetoric, they demanded that President Bush pull U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and place them on the Mexican border with orders to shoot to kill. During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country. Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
Gabriela Cruz gives birth to her first American-born child in Cook County Hospital in Chicago.  Many migrants seek to give birth to children in the United States.  Gabriela and her husband, Chava, have five children; the child in this photograph was the only born in the United States.  The couple comes from Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico and married when Chava was 12 years old and Gabriela was 13.

During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
Gabriela Cruz gives birth to her first American-born child in Cook County Hospital in Chicago. Many migrants seek to give birth to children in the United States. Gabriela and her husband, Chava, have five children; the child in this photograph was the only born in the United States. The couple comes from Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico and married when Chava was 12 years old and Gabriela was 13. During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country. Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
 Migrants cross through the Peten jungle in the back of a smuggler’s trucks. Although the Peten jungle is quickly being burned and turned into farm land, much virgin jungle remains.  Because the jungle is still one of the country’s most remote areas, many Central American migrants choose to pass through it on the way Mexico and the United States. The road is treacherous and the men and women often have no idea where they are going. 

The area is also a popular route from drug smuggling; the migrant smuggling business is largely controlled by the same narco-cartels that control the drug business. Eighty percent of the drugs that make it to the United States today pass through Guatemala.
Migrants cross through the Peten jungle in the back of a smuggler’s trucks. Although the Peten jungle is quickly being burned and turned into farm land, much virgin jungle remains. Because the jungle is still one of the country’s most remote areas, many Central American migrants choose to pass through it on the way Mexico and the United States. The road is treacherous and the men and women often have no idea where they are going. The area is also a popular route from drug smuggling; the migrant smuggling business is largely controlled by the same narco-cartels that control the drug business. Eighty percent of the drugs that make it to the United States today pass through Guatemala.
Birthday party at the Nino household on Chicago’s South Side.
Birthday party at the Nino household on Chicago’s South Side.
Members of the Chicago Minuteman Project, a right-wing anti-immigrant group, demonstrate in downtown Batavia, Illinois.  The group was protesting against a four-day pro-immigration march that covered the close to 50 miles from Chicago to House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s Office in Batavia. About 800 immigrants and activists participated in the march.   According to a newspaper article, Carl Segvich of the Chicago Minuteman Project said that all illegal immigrants should be arrested and kicked out of the country. “We will be destroyed from within, and that's what we're witnessing sadly, tragically today,” he said.  “We're being invaded and taken over by illegal aliens.”

During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
Members of the Chicago Minuteman Project, a right-wing anti-immigrant group, demonstrate in downtown Batavia, Illinois. The group was protesting against a four-day pro-immigration march that covered the close to 50 miles from Chicago to House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s Office in Batavia. About 800 immigrants and activists participated in the march. According to a newspaper article, Carl Segvich of the Chicago Minuteman Project said that all illegal immigrants should be arrested and kicked out of the country. “We will be destroyed from within, and that's what we're witnessing sadly, tragically today,” he said. “We're being invaded and taken over by illegal aliens.” During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country. Despite these obstacles, these resilient immigrants are transforming American culture and posing fundamental questions of justice, citizenship, and labor to the country.
Handcuffs lie on the ground before being put away after shackling a group of undocumented immigrants who were being transported from Pennsylvania to the border crossing at Hidalgo. All the men had spent time in county jail in Pennsylvania and were sent back across the border to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

Thousands of Mexican and Central American migrants are returned to their home countries each year by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE. The agency operates about 48 flights each week to deport people from the United States back to their country of origin. Depending on the crime the migrants commit will determine whether or not they will be shackled throughout the flight. The flights originate from various parts of the United States. Approximately 400,000 people were deported this past year.
Handcuffs lie on the ground before being put away after shackling a group of undocumented immigrants who were being transported from Pennsylvania to the border crossing at Hidalgo. All the men had spent time in county jail in Pennsylvania and were sent back across the border to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Thousands of Mexican and Central American migrants are returned to their home countries each year by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE. The agency operates about 48 flights each week to deport people from the United States back to their country of origin. Depending on the crime the migrants commit will determine whether or not they will be shackled throughout the flight. The flights originate from various parts of the United States. Approximately 400,000 people were deported this past year.