Scenes from Life Along the US-Mexico Border

Scenes from Life Along the US-Mexico Border

Some people live so close to the fence they can reach out of their window and touch it.

The first time I stood in front of the US-Mexico border, I felt dwarfed not only by its size but also by the emotional force it wields. This was in Tijuana, at that famous viewpoint where its rusted, oxidizing bars stretch out into the ocean. I remember thinking that it didn't look so far to swim around, especially if the tide was out, and how strange it was that one of the world's most trafficked land borders was at once a heavily secured, militarized crossing and in a place where people might be able to swim across.


By now, we all know about the plans to replace that border with a larger, more intensely scrutinized fence. Donald Trump's proposed wall is estimated to take three and a half years to build and cost upward of $25 billion. There are obvious obstacles to building it—the cost, for one thing, and the topographical challenges. And then there are the people who live on the land just beyond the fence.

On the Mexico side, some people live so close to the fence they could stretch an arm out of their window and touch it; many reminisce about the greenery and the access to the river they had before the existing fence went up.

These images were taken during 2016 in various places along the Mexican side of the border, between Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez. They aim to capture some of the communities that have been impacted by the existing fence and who wonder how their lives will be changed with a new border wall.

See more of Erin Lee Holland's photography here.

A house in Nogales, Sonora, built right up to the border fence.

View of the corrugated iron border fence from a living room in Pueblo Nuevo, Mexicali.

A young man sits outside his house opposite the corrugated iron border fence in Mexicali. From his house, you can see an outlet mall on the other side in Calexico, and he told me it is not uncommon to see people jump over and run to cars waiting in the mall parking lot.

The border fence stretches into the ocean dividing Tijuana, Baja California, from California.


A man working as a mechanic in Mexicali, who also advertised "tunnel services" as I walked past his shop.

A cemetery in Tecate, Baja California, which sits beside the borderline.

A woman who grew up and still lives in front of the barred part of the fence. Before the fence was constructed, she told me, there was a breeze and access to the river on the other side.

The view from an abandoned apartment in an area known as Nueva, in Mexicali looking toward Calexico

A house in Nogales built right up to the border fence.

A couple walks across the beach in front of the border fence in Tijuana. Parts of the fence have been painted blue to blend into the horizon.

The border fence leading toward the beach in Tijuana.