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  • Jorge Choy-Gómez

They haven't told us

When I approached the immigration station (detention center) "Siglo XXI" in Tapachula I observed several parked buses. For deportations, I thought. After finding a parking spot nearby, an army man kindly approached and asked me: "Do you know what will happen here?" After several seconds in which I didn't know what to answer, I finally said no.

- "Why?" I replied.

- "I looked at you with your camera and backpack and thought you knew something. There seems to be an event, but nobody has told us anything."

- Have you been told how long you will be here?

- "No, they haven't told us".

- "Well, let's see what happens." Then I left.


They didn't let me take pictures of their mini-camp.


"How long will this conflict end?" Said a cemetery worker which was right in front of the detention center. He repeated to me: "What will happen to the blacks? We understand, but they leave a lot of garbage, they urinate everywhere, it is chaos." said while pointed them. I don't know, told him as I walked slowly to get away from his rampant racism. I regret not talking to him and his colleagues, another day I will return.

Army men, immigration agents, and federal police. Increasingly usual combination. The detention center was surrounded by metal fences, just like musical concerts. But I suspected that those fences were not for people to enter but not to leave.


6,000 members of the national guard would arrive that Monday, but at that time only these 2 officers at the entrance.

People waiting outside the station. Most of them are black people, I'm not sure what countries they are from. "Almost all of them are from Haiti," a peanut seller told me. Journalists and photographers there too. A lot of them.


I saw and heard confusion. Neither migrants nor military know what will happen. Talked with Jackson, a 20-year-old Haitian. He had 14 days in Tapachula waiting for a oficio de salida (egress/departure document) from the National Migration Institute, which will allow him to go to Mexico City, which is where he told me he wanted to live.


It was my first day taking pictures, I had troubles to approach. An old friend greets me while talking with a woman who braids a young man's hair. He took pictures and wrote in his notebook. I thought I should do the same. And if they get tired of responding? Of being asked the same thing over and over again? Still, I regret not asking Jackson to let me took a picture while playing with a soccer ball in a churchyard.

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