About the Project

The U.S.-Mexican Border: 
Images of Evasion, Hope, Conflict, and Miracles


Maps and Timeline

Photo Galleries:

Communities Abroad
The Border

Turning Points

      The border between the United States and Mexico stretches over two thousand miles from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico and is marked by high concrete fences in the west and a broad shallow river in the east when it reaches Texas. In 1991 at one crossing point alone, there were 60 million crossings through the official gates between San Diego and Tijuana. The militarized border, created by the United States in the 1920s, produces intense individual dramas every day. The United States tries to control who is let in and kept out of its borders under policies that have tried to control the number and backgrounds of Mexican migrants to the United States. And yet all along the border people wait for dark, when they will try to cross the border, evade the guards, and reach safety with family and friends on the other side. The fence and the river are at once real obstacles and powerful symbols of a struggle between those who want to keep two nations apart and those who live their lives in circuits of family and friendship that loop back and forth between the United States and Mexico as if there were no border.

       This gallery illustrates three meanings created by conflict on the border.
The first two snapshots reveal high and low roads Mexican migrants take to evade the American border police.
The second group depicts a protest in Mexico City on February 15, 1999 by human rights activists against what they consider murder by American authorities of people who try to cross the border.
The third group are of retablos commissioned by individual Mexican migrants to express gratitude for divine intervention that created the miracle of surviving a particular conflict with American authorities at the border.

       For a detailed analysis of debates over American border policy as well as an analysis of the human consequences, intended and unintended, of that policy, see “The New Era of Mexican Migration to the United States,” by two leading authorities on the border experience.