Jesus & the Bracelets: a Christmas dispatch as only Kadir Van Lohuizen can deliver it. He’s in northern Mexico now, perhaps the most dangerous part of his 40-week journey along the spine of the western hemisphere, from Patagonia to Alaska, for his Via PanAm project. His report from Sonora:
In the evening I am back in Nogales. I visit one of the shelters where migrants who have been deported that day from US stay for the night. Vincent Ortiz is mopping the floor; it has rained a lot and the roof is leaking. He was deported two days before and he is very upset. He is an American citizen. Moreover, he is a Native American and by no means a migrant. He shows me his Native American ID card. And still, his own government sent him to Mexico. Another man, Marco Antonia Lopez, sits on a bench. He tells me he came to the US when he was two years old. He has two children born and raised in the US. He doesn`t speak Spanish and looks lost. These two cases are illustrative for the great deficiencies in the US immigration system.
In the corner stands a Jesus statue, around his arms and legs are bracelets. They are identification bracelets that the migrants wore around their wrists from the US migrant detention centers.
I love Via PanAm not just for the reporting and photography, but for the way Kadir is doing it: on his own. He’s one of the top photojournalists in the world, co-founder of the NOOR agency, winner of the Visa d’Or. But he saw the story as something epic, forty weeks long—about twenty times longer than most publications will send a photographer on assignment. He has a couple of smaller media partners from the Netherlands, but he’s largely doing it on his own. One thing is certain: the stories he’s doing would never have happened if he had waited for permission.
Support him any way you can. You can start by downloading his beautiful iPad app. Make it a stocking stuffer. Do it for yourself. Do it for Jesus of the Bracelets.