Deportees

by Nick Oza



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Each day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants are deported to Mexico by the U.S government. They are bused to the border and marched across the international line. Many have trekked through the desert for days. Most have no money or possessions other than the clothes on their backs. They must decide whether to hire smugglers for another try at the border, or return to families in their homeland. While waiting in the no-man's land that is the border town of Nogales, they stay in shelters , get medical help from volunteers and find meals in soup kitchens.Frank Olachea Martin, a Christian who was deported in 2008 after spending 32 years in the United States, now volunteers as a Samaritan treating returning immigrants' injuries. On occasion, Martin stops by the border fence and, facing Border Patrol cameras, prays to God for the immigrants and assails U.S. policies. When not helping deportees, Martin said, he cleans buses in the Sonoran town, using his meager salary to buy first-aid and other supplies for the homeless pilgrims.

Each day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants are deported to Mexico by the U.S government. They are bused to the border and marched across the international line. Many have trekked through the desert for days. Most have no money or possessions other than the clothes on their backs. They must decide whether to hire smugglers for another try at the border, or return to families in their homeland. While waiting in the no-man’s land that is the border town of Nogales, they stay in shelters, get medical help from volunteers and find meals in soup kitchens.

Frank Olachea Martin, a Christian who was deported in 2008 after spending 32 years in the United States, now volunteers as a Samaritan treating returning immigrants’ injuries. On occasion, Martin stops by the border fence and, facing Border Patrol cameras, prays to God for the immigrants and assails U.S. policies. When not helping deportees, Martin said, he cleans buses in the Sonoran town, using his meager salary to buy first-aid and other supplies for the homeless pilgrims.

These are the recent crossers who got caught by Border Patrol agents after hours or days in the desert.

Editor’s Note – Madhu Reddy

The world has roughly 50 million illegal migrants, about one quarter of which live in the US. The debate about illegal immigrants has raged in the US ever so strongly in the last decade given rising domestic unemployment and internal strife.It’s the sovereign right of every country to administer the laws of its country and protect its borders against illegal immigration. One end of the debate are those who demand immediate and strict enforcements of the law. Illegal migrants are lawbreakers; they should not be rewarded with amnesty or legalization. Granting amnesty to illegal migrants not only undermines the rule of law, but it also encourages future violations.

On the other hand, there are those who oppose deportation and press for legalization of the migrants on the basis of basic human rights. Most of them are struggling to meet their most basic needs ans simply seeking gainful employment to support themselves and improve the lives of their families. Is that such a crime?

Keeping aside all the statistics of monetary costs involved in deporting humans there is a cost that is beyond any measurement. The people captured by Nick are no longer numbers or case files but individuals who have stories. The deportation takes a toll on the dignity of these human faces; each frame shows us a reality, which is so different from ours. So next time in debates with statistics and numbers remember the face that haunts you.

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About Nick Oza
My passion for photography started when I was 14 while I was playing with scrap cinema film. I cut a hole in a cardboard box, just the size of a film strip, and used a mirror to project images from the film on my bathroom tiles. I used a magnifying glass to see the image. But I never knew I would have a career in photography until I met my friend Alex Fernandes, a commercial photographer. I borrowed his book, John Hedgecoe's Practical Photography, and hand-copied it because I didn't have the money to buy it. It took me about three to four months, but writing each word made me grasp the book especially well. Fortunately, I did some freelance work and got the opportunity to come to America to study and explore my life. I was accepted by the Brooks Institute, the Rhode Island School of Design, the Portfolio Center and Columbia College. Since my uncle lived in Chicago, I selected Columbia College. I came here to study commercial photography, but several instructors told me that I saw things uniquely and should pursue photojournalism or documentary photography. Everybody has a story to tell. In my profession, the camera allows me to get close to people. They share their views, fear and joy, and I share mine. For me, understanding comes first and only then, does my camera.Nick Oza