We are in the process of upgrading software and the SDN website will be temporarily unavailable for a few hours on Monday morning EST. Once the software is upgraded, this notice will no longer appear and the site will be back to normal. We apologize for any inconvenience.
  • Image 1 of 28

Immigrants are US

Mark Tuschman | California, United States

Andrea Rivas Dreyfuss
Country of Origin: Peru
Emergency Room Physician
The new immigration policies have affected our patients. I have patients that clearly are not coming to the hospital at the right time because they’re fearful that they’re going to get deported. And I’ve had, sadly, women that have been sexually assaulted or physically assaulted that are so fearful for their immigration status that they do not want to report anything to the police. I tell them this is the one little change that could give them the pathway to legal status. -- It’s just like, “No, I still don’t want to.”

For more than a century the identity of the United States has been grounded in the notion that we are a “nation of immigrants” and it is precisely our diversity and multiculturalism that makes America unique.People from the world over come here to build a better life, but America, too, benefits from theirinnumerable contributionsto our cultural, scientific, and economic vitality.

The recent barrage of anti-immigrant rhetoric and exclusionary immigration policy proposals are sowing seeds of anxiety and distrust, creating an increasingly polarized America. Gross economic inequalities, fear, and political gridlock have created an atmosphere of deep alienation and resentment that too frequently has been directed towards immigrants.

With this in mind, I have interviewed and photographed over 100 immigrants spanning the entire spectrum: from the undocumented, to those seeking asylum, to DACA recipients, and finally, to those with full citizenship. My work focuses on communities being discriminated against by our current administration and includes people of all skills, from those doing manual labor to those highly skilled in medicine, law, and hi-tech. 

I am a professional photographer with over forty years of experience and have created an extensivephoto-essay telling the stories of people whose struggles brought them to America and whose subsequent contributions and successes haveenriched our country.

Photography is a universal language.In my experience powerful portraits accompanied by stories of people’s lives are the best way to connect with those whose life stories are vastly different than our own.This project came about from my sense of the dire needto increase understanding of and empathy towards immigrants and to move us, as a country, towards a more humane, compassionate, and integrated society.

But how?

In a world where people are increasingly polarized in their views and where social media has siphoned us off into communities of like-minded people, preconceived notions and biases are on the rise and not as quick or easy to dial back.

Knowing that those who succumb to negative narratives about immigrants may have had few opportunities to engage, in proximity, with them, I wanted to bring the breadth, depth, and complexity of immigrant experiences and contributions forward through photographs and stories, giving people access in a way that they may not have otherwise had.After all, one can argue about politics or even disregard facts but one cannot argue a person’s story. The power of photography accompanied by people’s stories have the potential to highlight people’s humanity and change the widely disseminated negative narrative of immigrants.

Traveling exhibits seemed the most effective way of bringing these photos and stories to as wide and diverse an audience as possible.

Content loading...

Make Comment/View Comments