The number of children detained at the southwest border of the US since October has reached a shocking 52,000, up 99% since 2013. The children, primarily teens from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, often face months or years in detention before a judge can hear their cases. An uptick in media coverage of the conditions of unattended minor detainees has raised outrage in the United States, with President Obama calling the issue an “urgent humanitarian situation.”
This problem is naturally more of a concern in border towns like Arivaca, Arizona–12 miles north of Mexico. There, Jason De León, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and director of the Undocumented Migration project, teamed up with National Geographic photographers to start photo camp for children earlier this year. Twenty-five kids, aged 13-18, from underserved communities on the Mexican border, spent five days capturing their lives.
This is the result:
“There was no border in the beginning.”