Refugio - PhMuseum

Refugio

Tara Pixley

2018 - Ongoing

As thousands of migrants seeking asylum from embattled Central American nations have amassed at the US/Mexico border since 2018, activists and Mexican citizens have also gathered at the border to offer shelter, sustenance, assistance and allyship to those in need. This photo series documents the collaborative work of advocates and migrants to create community and a refuge despite the torturous physical environments and prohibitive bureaucratic systems facing those who seek asylum in the U.S.

The support and care offered to Tijuana’s migrant community are as varied and inventive as the American government’s bureaucratic efforts to limit successful asylum cases. Los Angeles-based dance troupe Contra Tiempo brought what they called the “radical joy” of acro-yoga, rumba and bachata dance circles to the overcrowded El Barretal shelter that then housed over a thousand migrants without water or electricity. Mexican activists pooled money to open a shelter in the mustard halls of Casa de Luz where LGBTQ+ individuals and single mothers live communally, supporting one another as they collectively seek asylum. Other shelters have cropped up over the last year catering especially to the vulnerable communities of transwomen and women with young children.

What started out as disconnected individual advocacy work has become a vital component of addressing this crisis of several thousand stranded and detained people fighting for access to basic rights and survival. This is a story of communities responding to and meeting needs beyond the bounds of nations and governments. This is a story of those most affected identifying solutions and possibilities to address the complex and pervasive social issue they’re facing. This is a story I have yet to see told.

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