Working with Migrants; Shadowing the Undocumented

Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Magazine, Newspaper, Book

"The Dream Boat" - Luke Mogelson and Joel Van Houdt - New York Times Magazine

More than a thousand refugees have died trying to reach Christmas Island. But faced with unbearable conditions at home, they keep coming.


 "In September, in one of these trucks, I sat across from a recently married couple in their 20s, from Tehran. The wife, who was seven months pregnant, wore a red blouse stretched over her stomach; the husband a tank top, thick-rimmed glasses and a faux hawk that revealed a jagged scar (courtesy, he said, of the Iranian police.) Two months had passed since they flew to Jakarta; this was their fourth attempt to leave. Twice, en route to the boat that would bring them to Australia, they were intercepted, detained and paid bribes for their release. Another time, the boat foundered shortly after starting out. All the same, they were confident this trip would be different. Like everyone else's in the truck, theirs was a desperate kind of faith. "Tonight wwe will succeed," the husband assured me. They were determined that their child be born 'there.'"

"Immigrants with No Criminal History Get Lengthy Stays at Private South Florida Facility" - Megan O'Matz - WPTV


". . .In a daring move, two young adults, both illegal immigrants brought by their families to the United States as children, turned themselves in to gain access to the center and expose what they claimed were human rights abuses and policy violations by federal authorities.Once inside, they said they found people unjustly arrested and subjected to lengthy and unnecessary confinement, and reported incidents of substandard or callous medical care, including a woman taken for ovarian surgery and returned the same day, still bleeding, to her cell, and a man who urinated blood for days but wasn't taken to see a doctor. . ."

"Waiting for the Eagle to Fly: With Nappy Chin, Hoppalong Geech, and Big Momma Rock Undercover" - Les Payne - Newsday

Undercover at Migrant Labor Camp


". . .As I entered the 17-man migrant camp the first day, I had primed myself to respond to my new name, 'Bubba.' I kept in mimd my briefing on how to function and stay alive. The instructions were given to me by an ex-migrant, a hefty man with a barrell belly and a rolling, gravel voice. With passionless, staccato cadence he told me: 'Drink wine wit' 'em. Shoot craps. Challenge 'em, tell 'em, look man, I'll knock your goddamm head off. Curse at 'em, all the time. But don't mess wit' their women, or you'll get your throat cut'. . ."

"11 Hours to Monterrey" - Dick J. Reavis - Dallas Observer

Ride Along on Dallas' Midnight Express to Mexico to Monterrey.


"We open our eyes. 'We need money for the bridge. Are you going to kick in?' the van driver is telling us. 'Everybody needs to give me $15,' says Don D, a thin, light-skinned man in his 50s. With a drooping mustache, faded jeans, and pointy-toed boots, he looks every bit the part of an aging vaquero. But in truth, he's a camionete operator riding herd over six passengers who are risking an illegal border crossing as part of a cheap ride from Dallas into Mexico. The money he's asking for isn't for the fare, tolls, or even gas. It's bribe money for the Mexican customs inspectors. Nearly everyone on the bus is bringing household good and appliances that, they believe, are subject to import taxes. If the taxes aren't paid, those belongings become contraband when they enter Mexico. . ."

"By a Back Door to the U.S." - Sandra Ochoa and Ginger Thompson - New York Times

A Migrant's Grim Sea Voyage; Dangerous Passage: From Ecuador by Sea


"It was the fourth day of an illegal sea voyage. Hector Segura was at the helm of a creaky old fishing boat overloaded with 205 passengers, all migrants from Ecuador, all hoping to reach the United States. The distant flicker, Mr. Segura thought, was the law on their tail.

“Mexico’s ‘Mordida’: Bribes Are a Way of Life—and Death" - Mike Goodman and Patt Morrison - Los Angeles Times

U.S. Families Pay Up to $1,000 to Recover Loved Ones’ Bodies


"In America, it is the bribe."In Russia, it is the 'vzyatka.' "And in Mexico, they call it 'mordidia,' the bite -- so much a way of life that even the dead are not beyond the power of a well-placed peso. . . . "

"The Long Road North" - John Davidson - Texas Monthly

Hunger, Thirst, Exhaustion, and Snakebite Plague the Journey of the Wetback, but There's Only One Danger That Counts.


"When I asked Javier what it was like to be a wetback, he smiled at the implausibility of summing up five years of experience, and then he looked thoughtfully at his hands. We had just met and were sitting on a shady curb next to a hamburger stand in West San Antonio; it was one of those first hot weeks toward the end of May when you know it won't be cool again till fall. Javier's hands, I noticed, looked too old for his 24 years. The fingers were squeezed out of shape from heavy labor and the skin so thick it was like permanent work gloves. He absently rubbed a scar on the back of his his left hand as if it might come off and said . . ."

"The Crossing: A special report: A Perilous 4,000-Mile Passage to Work" - Charlie LeDuff - New York Times


"So they crawled under a cattle fence, crossed over the highway and under another fence. There, waiting, stood two Mexicans with pistols in their waistbands. They were not frightening to Edouardo Cervantes, who at 19, had been through the drill before. Bandits who prey along the illegal immigrant trail are part of Mexican life, like the police there who hold out their palm if you want to park near your church."