Objects left by migrants on the US-Mexico border reveal their desperation
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In the United States, migrants, often from Latin America, enter the country to seek safety and opportunity for their families.

Los Angeles Times journalist Molly Hennessy-Fiske has documented routes along the Rio Grande River that mark the boundary between Mexico and the US.

Scattered along these trails, she found some of the possessions that have been dropped by migrants on their journey as they hope to make safe passage across the border – items which highlight their utter desperation.


Migrants are given plastic bracelets by the people taking them across the border to signify that they have paid. If they don’t have one, their families can be targeted and extorted for thousands of dollars. Once safely on the other side, the brightly coloured bracelets labelled “entregas” (deliveries) are quickly removed and left behind.

Children’s backpacks

Found discarded in bushes near their entry to the US, children’s backpacks with Disney princess motifs were found. They contained blankets and other items that were likely deemed non-essential since they’d successfully made the crossing, or were just too laborious to carry any further.

Phone numbers

A scrap piece of paper with phone numbers on it was found on a bush near the border. These would be US-based numbers and WhatsApp details of people they could contact and would have been vital. This item was probably lost accidentally in the desperation of crossing.

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Wet sweatshirts

Making the crossing on a river usually at night, a discarded wet sweatshirt shows how perilous the journey can be. Migrants typically cross on a flimsy dinghy that can easily sink and have resulted in drownings, revealing the lengths some are willing to go to seek asylum in the US.

Toddler shoes

The journey is dangerous for an adult, but Hennessy-Fiske also found many children items including toddler’s shoes. Such possessions bring in to stark reality the level of desperation families face in trying to forge a new, safe life for themselves.

Line of scripture

With the little that be can be carried, the fact that lines of scripture were important for a migrant to have with them when they crossed found demonstrates the riskiness of making the journey. Unsure if they would make it alive, many place their faith in God to safely see them across.

Lip balm

Migrants are so often demonised and dehumanised with anti-immigration rhetoric in the media - words like ‘swarm’ and ‘flood’ are used by those who aim to do just that. But everyday items like lip balm show that these people are just normal people who are desperate, want the best for their families and are often fleeing extreme hardships and unrest in their countries.

It truly is a heartbreaking situation and these items tell such a vivid story of these migrants who just want to reach safety.

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