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Photos: Hope and despair at the border

Thousands of migrants from Central America, fleeing poverty and violence, are arriving in Tijuana, Mexico, where they are living in squalid conditions as they seek entry into the United States.

President Trump has vilified them, claiming without evidence that their caravan harbors gang members and terrorists – an “onslaught of illegal aliens,” he calls it. The president has deployed troops to the border and threatened to illegally turn away migrants seeking asylum. U.S. border agents have fired tear gas at some who tried to cross the border.

But turning these individuals and families back, or actively deporting them to their home countries, may mean sentencing them to violent persecution or even death.

SPLC Deputy Legal Director Mary Bauer recently traveled to Tijuana to speak with some of them. Photographer Todd Bigelow captured images that put their despair, hope and humanity on full display.

The SPLC’s Mary Bauer speaks with migrants at the border in Tijuana.


A time for rest


A wedding ceremony for LGBT couples


Joy in the midst of despair


A moment of solitude for woman texting


Waiting in crowded conditions

A group shower

Mother dresses her son


One of many small children who are seeking shelter in the United States


Children huddle against the cold; temperatures have fallen into the low 40s at night.


Space is scarce at Unidad Deportiva Benito Juárez, a sports complex where migrants are being sheltered.


A young girl, stranded with her mother in Tijuana