“The stretch between Tijuana and San Diego is long. Very long. And it is as treacherous as it is beautiful. It is unlikely that anybody who has ever crossed it will easily forget it. Its desert like landscape is bound to carve itself equally onto body and soul.”
-José Ángel Navejas
Between 1983 and 1987 along the California/Mexico border, Ken Light took his Hasselblad camera and flash and rode along with US Border Patrol agents in the middle of the night as they combed the Otay Mesa looking for “illegal aliens.” He was there when they were apprehended – captured by authorities as well as the photographer’s flash. The black and white images are stark, impromptu mug shots in the desert, taken at a moment of extreme vulnerability, when hope gave way to despair, migrants caught in a cruel game of hide and seek.
Light’s photographs and José Ángel Navejas’ first hand, compelling memoir, presented in both English and Spanish, offer testimony of the harrowing night border crossing of those desperately seeking a chance at a better life. A day after Navejas first crossed the US border from Mexico, he was caught and deported back onto the streets of Tijuana. Undeterred, he crawled back through a tunnel to San Diego, where he entered the United States forever.
In piercing words and in strobe lit images caught against the dark of night, Midnight La Frontera’s immediacy underscores the struggle and defiance of those who make the perilous hike for days and weeks in search of the American Dream.