Loretta and Van Horn, Texas
A couple weeks ago I stopped at a laundromat in a tiny border town called Van Horn. While waiting on the clothes to dry a woman with 2 kids walked in and put her baby down in a hamper beside me. "That wasn't your basket was it?" She asked laughing. We got to talking about this trip, and I told her about my interest in photographing a Mexican immigrant. It's a hot topic in America today and something I want to learn more about, especially from someone who's experienced crossing the border.
Loretta then invited me to her parent's home for Bible study and dinner. It was the nicest thing and made me feel like I was right back at home!
When we arrived at her parent's church, a tiny trailer covered with stickers and posters, they immediately smiled at me and welcomed me in with open arms.
Bernie and Grace immigrated here from Mexico before Loretta was born and used to go back and forth across the river to help those that were in Porverina, Bernie's hometown. They had a beautiful church there that they had renovated and worked hard to grow the congregation and help those that needed it, providing them with food and sometimes clean water.
Unfortunately they are no longer allowed to cross the river due to border control's heavy crackdown. There are so many drugs being trafficked through Mexico that it doesn't seem illegal immigrants are the main concern. The church in Porverina, and the rest of the town, was essentially abandoned because of all the violence.
Loretta said her and her family would be allowed to go back and forth, if they drove hours around to get through the checkpoint. But it is so dangerous once in Mexico, and such a long drive, they rarely do. She brought out a beautiful old photo album of her friends and family that still live in Mexico and told me about each. Her parents had been going across that river since the 70's to help those people.
When Loretta's grandmother was dying the border patrol allowed her to cross the river once more to see her. After she passed away they were able to bring her casket back across to bury her here in Van Horn.
Most people in this small town work in the Talc Mine after high school. The economy doesn't seem to be doing very well and there obviously aren't very many jobs. I asked Loretta's son Juerve if he's excited to graduate in a couple weeks and he replied no because he didn't know what he's going to do next.
It's a tough life these people have gone through, many ups and downs. But meeting them you wouldn't know it. As they prayed for my safe travels before I got back on the road it was hard not to reconsider leaving. I hope that I see them again sometime!