I haven’t done a full project posting for this one yet (it’s a bit older than this site), but clearly I’m going to have to now: The Des Moines Register’s Guatemala: Hope At Any Cost project is a winner of this years APME International Perspectives award.
Register reporter Tony Leys and Register photographer Arturo Fernandez traveled to Guatemala in October 2008 to gain another perspective on a large immigration raid at a Postville, Iowa meatpacking plant in May 2008. The raid was unusual, in part, because federal officials pressed identity theft charges that landed longer prison sentences than many of the workers likely would have expected.
Tony and Arturo went to Guatemala to get a glimpse of the life that many of the workers had left and were now returning to in Guatemala after serving their prison terms.
I love working with Tony and Arturo: Both of them always turn in top-notch work that challenges me to do a presentation that’s up to the task of showcasing the beautiful and moving photography and words they produce.
The story they brought back was desperation: the Guatemalans who traveled to Iowa knew they were gambling with their families’ wellbeing in coming illegally to the United States. When they landed in prison, rather than being simply deported as is often the case, their families were suddenly cut off from a major source of income and put into an even more dire financial situation. But people from the same rural communities are still leaving for the United States, because things are so bad at home it’s worth the risk.
I’m really glad to see the project get the attention it deserves – congratulations to Art, Tony, and to everyone else involved!