Trump Revolution: Immigration

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Featuring work by eight artists, and a new project from Magnum Photos, the first in a series of exhibitions at the Bronx Documentary Center examines America’s political transformation since Trump’s regressive immigration policies

We are now into the third year of Donald Trump’s presidential term, and the ripples of his radical anti-immigration policies have been felt far and wide. His administration’s “zero tolerance” approach has separated families and detained children, even using force to stop migrants from entering the US. At one point, Trump even suggested shooting people in the legs to prevent them entering and has repeatedly referred to illegal immigrants, many who are fleeing dangerous situations in their home countries, as criminals.

Portrait of ​Roberto Baez outside his home in Denver Colorado. Roberto is the third son of activist Jeanette Vizguerra, since 2016 he has fought with his family to stop his mother's deportation order. Roberto regularly attends meetings, marches and protests against family separation. January, 2019, Denver, Colorado, USA. © Cinthya Santos-Briones.
© Cinthya Santos-Briones.

Curated by Michael Kamber and Cynthia Rivera, Trump Revolution: Immigration is the first in a series of exhibitions at the Bronx Documentary Center, New York City, which will examine America’s political and social transformation since Trump came into power. Through image, video, text, and audio interviews, the exhibition traces how the overturning of decades of American immigration policy has profoundly affected American society and the lives of millions of immigrants.

Crowd members lit up their phones during a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) news conference in New York, U.S. President Donald Trump was expected to announce new restrictions targeting Muslim immigrants. 25 January 2017. © Kholood Eid / Bloomberg.

Among the exhibiting artists is Kholood Eid, who accompanied a bus of mostly Arab and Muslim female activists from New York City to the first Women’s March in Washington D.C., the day after Trump was elected.

“As a Palestinian-American Muslim woman, and the daughter of immigrants, I found myself struggling to process this new America,” Eid said, in a statement provided by the gallery. “But this America wasn’t all that was new to me. It reminded me of the days in late September of 2001— a time filled with tension, anxiety and fear.”

Gloria Mendoza, 26, tries to hold back tears after learning that President Trump had ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on 05 September 2017 in New York, United States. Mendoza took part in a protest where police arrested demonstrators for blocking the intersection in front of Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. © John Moore / Getty Images.
A local rests by the side of a road, unable to cross a bridge due to a police blockade in the outskirts of Arriaga, Chiapas, Mexico, on 27 October 2018. Luis Antonio Rojas.

The exhibition also includes video work by Laura Saunders, and images by John Moore, who won World Press Photo of the Year 2019 with his image of the crying Honduran girl.

Elliot Ross will exhibit work from American Backyard, which documents the lives of people who live on the US-Mexico border. “There is a larger, less transparent story to be told about our borderlands to do with acculturation, surveillance, diversity and compassion,” said Ross, in a statement provided by the gallery.

Beef with Ladd, West of Naco, AZ. Despite being the face of the local far right movement and conservative agenda in the Naco, Arizona, rancher John Ladd doesn’t support the construction of a new border wall. He cites the ineffectiveness of the current wall in relation to the taxpayer dollars spent on it as his primary concern. “We don’t need [immigration] reform, we just need to enforce the laws we have. Immigration is one reason we’re broke, and border communities take the brunt of it.” © Elliot Ross.

Elsewhere, Griselda San Martin explores the symbolic boundary of physical borders, photographing the families who meet at Friendship Park, a stretch of the US-Mexico border where people can share intimate moments through a metal fence, and Luis Antonia Rojas exhibits his documentation of the Central American migrant caravan as it made its way through Mexico toward the U.S. border.

Also on show is Greg Constantine’s Seven Doors: American Gulag, an investigation into immigration detention centres in the US, and Cinthya Santos-Briones’ Living in Sanctuary. Santos-Briones’ collaborative project explores links between migration and religious solidarity, documenting how the persecution of migrants is changing the roles of faith leaders, their institutions and communities.

San Luis Regional Detention Center. © Greg Constantine.
Film still from Let Them Have Water. The film is about the legacy of humanitarian aid in the desert and the government's recent attempts to criminalise them. © Laura Saunders / The Intercept

Alongside these works is the first showing of Magnum Photos’ touring exhibition, LINEA: The Border ProjectIn May 2019, 16 Magnum photographers spent two weeks on either side of the US-Mexico border, in San Diego, Tijuana, Juárez and El Paso. The photographers featured include Antoine d’Agata, Olivia Arthur, Jim Goldberg, Cristina de MiddelRafal MilachMark Power, and more.

“We made this work and this show to reflect these ideas, and will bring it to public spaces across both countries and the political divide inside the USA,” said Magnum in a collective statement provided by the gallery. “In an era of polarising rhetoric and relentless attempts at dehumanising the other, we hope our work can serve as a counterpoint and an antidote.”

© Jim Goldberg.
Marigold Warner

Deputy Editor

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Deputy Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Elephant, Gal-dem, The Face, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.