The border fence between Agua Prieta, Mexico and Douglas, Arizona. Crosses on the fence signify people who have died attempting to enter the United States. From "Orphaned at the Border," January 1, 2007 in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.
Armando Bermudez installs barbed wire at Casa Pepito. Children are often returned to Mexico and left at the orphanage after being picked up by the Border Patrol trying to enter the United States with their parents. The wire is used to keep them at the orphanage for their own safety.
From left, Eulogio Felix, 9, Sergio Valesquez, 6, “Tia” Lourdes Martinez, and Jennifer Hernandez, 7, play in the courtyard of the orphanage. Despite their situation, the children always find ways to have fun.
Raymundo Avila, 8, cries after not being allowed to follow a group of visitors that left the orphanage. Raymundo often has to be distracted when visitors leave to keep him from becoming upset.
Orphan Raymundo Avila, 9, Lorena Rios, son Nathanaiel, seven months, and Evan Rios watch their son Sergio, 7, play during a visitation day. The Rios family has been separated because of parental drug use.
Settling arguments is part of the daily routine. One of the tias, or “aunts” who work at the orphanage said children placed there are “agressivo, pelenciero y ambicioso,” aggressive, contentious, and stingy.
Sergio Valesquez, 6, showers with other children before their eight o’clock bedtime. Out of modesty, the children always shower in their underwear.
“Tia” Ana Rosales carries Hector Galvez, 2, and J. J. Hernandez, 19 months, to bed. The number of children can fluctuate, depending on the time of year. From "Orphaned at the Border," January 1, 2007 in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.
Fernando Figueroa, 10, Sergio Valesquez, 6, Rigo Montano, 9, and Eulogio Felix, 9, watch Lucha Libre, or Mexican-style wrestling on television.
Miriam and Jose Herrera wave goodbye to hector Galvez, 21 months, who they are in the process of adopting. The adoption process can take up to two years.
Sergio Valesquez, 6, and Eulogio Felix, 9, play with a rope and football, tossing it over the wall and pulling it back over again and again.
Orphaned at the Border
What happens to the children caught between the demands of the American labor market and a struggling Mexican economy? Many arrive at orphanages clustered along the cities along the U.S./Mexico border. When their parents have died of thirst making the journey across the border, or have succumbed to drug abuse in a major drug traffic zone, children arrive in the care of the Mexican municipal government system.