American Chimera

Mexico & USA | 2018-2019

American Chimera wants to rise questions on the migration phenomenon while challenging the stereotypes related to the illegal migration from Central America to United States.

Tijuana, Mexico | November, December 2018
Kentucky, USA | April, May 2019

Crossing the wall between Mexico and the US and entering America has become the hope of a new life for different generations of Central American migrants, fleeing from organized crime, persecution and violence.

On the afternoon of December 1st, Mirna, Fabiola, Xinia and Dariella with their children, a small part of one of the caravans that traveled hundreds of miles through Mexico from Honduras, crossed the border wall near its western end on the beach near San Diego. Their plan was to apply for asylum, which, by American and international law, anyone physically present in the US is eligible to do.
But beyond the fence, separating them from the rest of the United States, was a further barbed-wire barrier, and armed Border Patrol agents who warned them that if they proceeded they would lose their right to claim asylum – and threatened to arrest them, presumably for child endangerment, if any children received even a scratch from the barbed wire. So the group of migrants decided to turn back to Mexico. Mexican police return them to the ‘Barretal’ shelter in Tijuana where they have been living ten days resting and organizing the next illegal cross.

Exhausted, after trying the endless procedure to enter legally in the States, the four woman decide to pay a coyote (smuggler) and cross illegally. In San Diego they are filed by the USBP (US Border Patrol) who release them after putting them a monitoring bracelet to the ankle which controls the women 24/7, for an unclear period of time while waiting the results of the asylum requests. All the women with their kids travel to Louisville, Kentucky, where they are hosted by a sponsor connected to the Catholic church, Ms Vonnette, a wealthy historically Republican voter and senior Army officer, who wishes to help migrants.

After a few days living together in Vonnette’s house, Dariella Sinia and Fabiola with their children leave the house and rent a small apartment where they can live all together. Mirna and her family remains with Ms Vonnette, who helps her to fulfill the multiple immigration requirements for the asylum request. Dariella can’t work regularly due to the ankle bracelet and she’s often excluded even from the black market. Fabiola doesn’t have the monitoring ankle bracelet because she was pregnant when entered the States. She sometimes illegally works as a gardener. Sinia found an illegal job as a cleaner for a cleaning service for hotels, but like Dariella she can be fired at any time due to her ankle bracelet. More relatives reached the States in February along with another caravan that travelled from Honduras through Mexico. They joined the women in Louisville and are now living in 13 in the rented apartment.