Press Release:

At a time when immigration is in the news on a daily basis, when stories of youngsters separated from their families seek desperately to reconnect across our southern borders, Don Bartletti’s photographs from Enrique’s Journey hit home as sharply as ever.

The images in this exhibition are from Bartletti’s 2002 Los Angeles Times story about the perilous trek youngsters would take to ‘El Norte’ in search of family and a life free of fear. Today they are as relevant as when the six-part Times series was published and won Bartletti the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

Bartletti has spent the majority of his life in photojournalism. The soul of his 40+ year career remains dedicated to making photographs on border issues. Although he has retired from the Times, he continues to follow this story and recently spent days in the “migrant caravan” shelter and photographed the surge of asylum seekers towards the U.S./Mexico border in Tijuana.

The numbers may have changed but causes and consequences of migration for survival have not.

Here is Bartletti’s statement about this work:

“Annually in the vast migration that’s changing the face of America, 1000’s of Central Americans attempt a harrowing 1,500-mile journey through the length of Mexico on the tops of freight trains.

Nearly all are visited by cruelty, hunger and fatigue. Stowaways call the unscheduled train they run to catch, “La Bestia” or The Beast. Some are maimed or killed by the iron wheels. In the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, Mara Salvatrucha gangsters, corrupt law enforcement officers and opportunist citizens hunt them like animals. By contrast, in the state of Veracruz trackside residents throw gifts of food, water and clothing to migrants as the train passes by.

Among these migrants are children as young as 12 who travel alone. Most are trying to find parents – usually mothers - who left them behind years ago to work in the United States. For children, the dream of reunification becomes the quest for the Holy Grail. Success comes only to the brave and the lucky.”

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