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On the Line

Immigrants want to cross the border. The Minutemen want to stop them. Uncompromising photos, taken by the people on both sides of one of America's most controversial issues.

Last year, three friends gave hundreds of disposable cameras to two groups on opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexico border: the undocumented migrants crossing the desert and the American civilians trying to stop them. The result: A portrait of the border like no other. Every day in small towns and desert stretches along the Arizona-Mexico border, a literal battle informs a political and social one. While the public, the president, Congress, and the courts debate the future of U.S. immigration law, thousands of migrants take the very real action of illegally crossing the border into this country. Waiting for them is a volunteer outfit of border patrollers who call themselves the Minutemen.The Border Film Project-a three-person team made up of a Rhodes scholar, a filmmaker, and a Wall Street analyst-hatched a plan to simplify the complexities of immigration and show the realities on the ground. They handed out hundreds of cameras to both sides, cleverly encouraging their safe return with pre-addressed, stamped envelopes and zero-balance gift cards to be recharged upon successful completion of the project (Wal-Mart cards for the migrants, Shell Gas for the Minutemen).The beauty of their approach is its refreshing evenhandedness. Give cameras to those affected and let the stories tell themselves. No agenda, no censorship. The goal is to raise awareness of that porous, spongy thing we call the border.You can see more of the resulting photography at forthcoming exhibitions-at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and at DiverseWorks in Houston-and a book is slated for release early next year. In the meantime, GOOD offers you the first published portfolio of images from the Border Film Project.

Wayne Lee, 55. Camera no. 410. Observation site: Hachita, New Mexico. Hometown: Corry, Pennsylvania.
Anonymous migrant. Camera no. 375. Distributed in Naco, Mexico.
Anonymous Minuteman. Observation site: Hachita, New Mexico.
Anonymous migrants. Camera no. 007. Distributed in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Anonymous Minuteman. Camera no. 435. Observation site: Arizona border.
Javier, traveling to Las Vegas. Camera no. 243. Distributed in Agua Prieta, Mexico.

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