Wednesday, April 24, 2013

From the annals of immigration

This photo from the annals of immigration isn’t dated so it’s not certain when it was taken by the photojournalist, Luis Marden. Marden, who worked for National Geographic, spoke Spanish so he was assigned to work that beat as their “Latin America man” beginning in the 1940s.

Here border patrol cops are trying to keep a fugitive in the US & his companeros in Mexico are helping him escape. It must have been a terrifying moment for him but several decades later the comic is also apparent. Marden doesn’t report which side won. Hopes are with the fugitive since his offense might have been nothing more than eating a tomato while the grower charged him with grand larceny.

Immigration policy toward Mexicans has never been benign: they have always been exploited labor, child labor is still legal in the US for farmworkers, housing was never  provided & whole families slept rough, prejudice against them was used to formulate US drug policy. But when you compare this image to the barbarisms of Mexican & Central American immigration to the US today--with the monstrous barrier wall, border patrol check points along US highways, immigration raids at workplaces, & massive deportations--this era almost seems benign.

(Photo by Luis Marden/National Geographic archives)

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