Continue reading

" />

Tent City: Infrastructure in the border camp in Matamoros, Mexico

Across the Rio Grande River from Brownsville, Texas, a tent city has grown on the dust and sidewalks of Matamoros, Mexico as people wait for their asylum cases in the U.S. courts. It’s a process that can take months, and now will take even longer, as the Trump administration shut down the processing of asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the camps, life must go on, despite few resources. Photographer Michael Santiago shows us some of the infrastructure people have created in order to keep day-to-day life moving, even while waiting in place. This is part of an extended look at one Pittsburgher’s return to the camp, read and see more here. To learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting asylum seekers there, head here.

While Milton, 19, an asylum seeker from Nicaragua, right, cooks tortillas on a mud stove for he and his friends, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Matamoros, Mexico. Behind him, Jaime, an asylum seeker from El Salvador, tosses his two-year-old daughter into the air. Milton, Jaime, and his family formed a bond after arriving at the camp in August and continue to look out for each other.
Phones are plugged into the sole charging station at the refugee camp, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Matamoros, Mexico.
Worth Manifesto team member Hana Shapiro, of Chicago, Ill., right, watches as children prepare to go into the children’s play area in the Global Response Management clinic, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Matamoros, Mexico. Ms. Shapiro is part of a group of photographers who aimed to document conditions in the migrant camp at the U.S.-Mexico border, with plans to create an exhibit to show what life is like there.
A young girl carries a jug of water from the Rio Grande River, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Matamoros, Mexico. The river is rife with sewage, especially after rains, increasing refugees’ risk of contracting illnesses and infections when they use the river.
A trench used as a latrine extends beyond a tent, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in a makeshift camp for asylum-seekers in Matamoros, Mexico. Many people who live in the camp do not like to stray far from their tents, so ditches for bathroom uses can be seen throughout, exacerbating sanitation problems.
Daniel, an asylum seeker from Honduras, speaks about the inner workings of a water filtration system that he oversees to serve asylum-seekers living in a makeshift camp on the U.S.-Mexico border, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Matamoros, Mexico.
A soccer goal is used to dry clothes, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Matamoros, Mexico. Trees, fences, poles, and zig-zagging string all hold the drying laundry of those living at the makeshift border camp.
People line up on the bridge stretching from Matamoros, Mexico to Brownsville, Texas as they await entry into the U.S., Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. Under the Migrant Protection Protocols policy, after refugees cross the bridge to Brownsville to request asylum from the U.S. government, agents send them back across to wait in Matamoros for their asylum hearings, which can be months in the future.

To read and see more, and to learn how Pittsburgh mobilized to help the people in the camp, head here.