Scott Bennett is a photographer and university professor living in San Diego, California. He is currently working on a long-term documentary project focusing on key themes in Latin America, including urbanization, immigration, and coffee culture....
The 23rd annual La Posada Sin Fronteras (Posada, or Lodging Without Borders) is a celebration that took place at the U.S.-Mexico border between Playas de Tijuana and Border Field State Park, re-enacting the story of Joseph and Mary's search to find shelter before Jesus was born. During the 2016 gathering on December 10, participants on both sides of the border sang songs, heard brief inspirational talks, and recited the names of immigrants who had died trying to cross the border during the past year. With Donald Trump as the newly elected President of the United States, there is increased fear concerning immigration, the building of the "wall," and the plight of many refugees wanting to enter the United States seeking asylum, as is the case of thousands of Haitian migrants living in Tijuana. I spent the afternoon on the Mexican side talking with participants, taking photographs, and also eating a tamale and drinking some champurrado (a warm, chocolate-based corn drink) offered at the park at the faro, or lighthouse. My photos are impressions from the afternoon and document some of the cultural aspects of La Posada and the borderlands. Many of the photos show the border wall because here it already exists in a markedly clear way. Unfortunately, many journalists were hounding the Haitian migrants for interviews and photographs, so it was a bit of a surreal scene. Since I speak fluent Portuguese, I spent a good amount of time conversing with a group of Haitians, as the majority of them have traveled from Brazil searching for asylum and a better life in the United States. Unfortunately, under Trump's harsh policies, the future does not look very bright for any of them. Only the future will tell, and I definitely hope to spend more time visiting with the refugees and hearing their stories of hope for a better future.