Migrants at Tijuana Border Are the Focal Point for WKU Photojournalism Student

Feb 25, 2019

All the attention focused on migrants at America’s border with Mexico convinced a Western Kentucky University photojournalism student to pack up his camera and head to Tijuana.

Michael Blackshire’s creative instincts are to head toward people facing difficult situations and document how their struggles play out day-by-day. He did a previous photojournalism project on gun violence in Louisville, focusing his lens on emotional images of people who lost loved ones.

Blackshire said during his 10 days in Tijuana he focused on the daily struggles of migrants hoping to cross into the U.S. and some who have already been deported, as well as local residents.

“I would say some of the most important pictures I took were just everyday lives of people there," said Blackshire. "One picture that stood out to me I took of these three siblings, who live right by the border. So you just see these three innocent children playing by the border and you see houses in the background.  And you see this big gargantuan fence, wall basically, and there’s barbed wire at the top and to them it’s just their everyday life.”

He said many migrants made the treacherous journey and often seemed surprised at how difficult it turned out to be to request asylum in the U.S.

“Every day they wake up at 6 a.m., at least the caravan people and the people who were deported and people in Mexico who are trying to seek asylum, they wake up around 6 a.m., they go to the port of entry, the very front of the border, and they hope that their number is called,” said Blackshire.

He said many of his photos show the routines and challenges of living in tents or shelters that’s become an on-going way of life for many of the migrants, who have no guarantee they will be even considered for the asylum that will offer them a new life in America.