El Sueño Americano ~ A Photographic Essay on the Seized and Discarded Belongings of Undocumented Migrants at the Mexican Border
El Sueño Americano
Photographs by Tom Keifer
El Sueño Americano, a photographic essay by Tom Keifer, evokes an empathetic feeling from the viewer. It began when Kiefer was a janitor working for the Customs and Border Protection in Ajo, Arizona. In 2007, after having worked there for nearly four years, he discovered that the seized property of the detained undocumented migrants was just being tossed away by the CBP officers.
Feeling angry but not knowing what to do about it, he began taking the stuff home. The wallets, toothbrushes, keys, clothes, mix CDs, condoms, contraceptive pills, sunglasses, rosary beads, testaments to the lives of the detained, he kept taking it home and photographing it. The collection became so large that he had to enlist his friends’ garages to house it. In 2014, seven years after starting the project, he quit his CBP job to work full-time on El Sueño Americano.
Link to Keifer’s website and more photographs.