Carlos Gomez, 34, from Guatemala. He already has lived in Miami for ten years until he was deported five month ago. He tried to go back in U.S.A. but was deported again from Mexico. In his bag has a shirt, scissors, a pair of pants, razorblade, pills, shampoo, deodorant, a can of coke and a t-shirt.
Carlos Gomez, 34, from Guatemala. He already had lived in Miami for 10 years until he was deported five months ago. He tried to go back to the U.S. but was deported again from Mexico. In his bag was a shirt, scissors, a pair of pants, razor blades, pills, shampoo, deodorant, a can of coke and a T-shirt.Emanuele Satolli
Carlos Gomez, 34, from Guatemala. He already has lived in Miami for ten years until he was deported five month ago. He tried to go back in U.S.A. but was deported again from Mexico. In his bag has a shirt, scissors, a pair of pants, razorblade, pills, shampoo, deodorant, a can of coke and a t-shirt.
Carlos Gomez, 34, from Guatemala.
Alfredo Núñez, 46, from El Salvador. He wants to go to U.S.A. but he thinks it also would be fine if he can reach the north of Mexico and find a job there. In his bag has a pair of shoes, a bible, toilet paper and a cell phone.
Alfredo Núñez, 46, from El Salvador.
Delmis Helgar, 32, from Honduras. She is in a hurry to reach Houston where her little daughter is living with some relatives, after her ex-husband was recently deported. In her bag has a make-up set, hand mirror, lip gloss, deodorant, shirt, small bible, face gel, wallet, mobile phone, pills, battery charger, hair band and two tampons.
Delmis Helgar, 32, from Honduras.
Luis Alfredo Portales, 43, from Guatemala. He lived in California for 28 years. Was deported 18 months ago when he had a car accident because drunk. He wants to go back to his wife and 4 sons who are living in U.S.A. He already has tried to reach his family but was deported from Mexico. In his bag has a t-shirt, ointment, a bottle of water, tortillas, batteries, ID card, pills, toothbrush, banana, chips and a pair of pants.
Luis Alfredo Portales, 43, from Guatemala.
Roger Savòn Court, 40, from Cuba. He flew to Colombia and traveled illegally through South America up to Guatemala. He wants to reach the U.S.A. and work honestly for the American society. In his bag has a sweater, two caps, cigars, wallet, toilet paper, a big shell talisman who guide him on the journey, headdress, fanny pack, necklace, document holder, a small Virgin Mary statue, mobile phone, hair gel and a detergent oil for the skin.
Roger Savòn Court, 40, from Cuba.
Ariel Mejia, 22, from Guatemala. He left for U.S.A. with a coyote but he was caught just entered in Mexico and deported. He wants to reach New York where he has two brothers working there and waiting for him. In his bag has a handkerchief, two pair of socks, bars of soap, cell phone, pills, a pen, toothbrush and a towel.
Ariel Mejia, 22, from Guatemala.
Edwin Alexander Mateo, 22, from Guatemala. He traveled toward U.S.A. but was caught in Mexico and deported. He's trying to reach the U.S.A. because he wants to get a job, buying a music equipment and become a dj. In his bag has a pair of pants, t-shirt, bible, mobile phone, wallet, phone card, perfume, prayer book, toothpaste and a toothbrush.
Edwin Alexander Mateo, 22, from Guatemala.
Andres Sanchez, 42, from El Salvador. He lived and worked in Virginia. 2 years ago he was caught during a normal control when he was driving and deported. He's trying to go back in Virginia. He's traveling with no bag because he wants to seem like a local.
Andres Sanchez, 42, from El Salvador.
Cesar Augusto Coxaj, 39, from Guatemala. He already tried to reach Denver but was caught in New Mexico while was crossing the desert. He knocked on the door of a farm to ask some water because he was thirsty. After twenty minute the border patrol caught him. He thinks that the farmers called the patrol. In his bag has a wallet, a sweater, a shirt and an envelope with some document and phone numbers.
Cesar Augusto Coxaj, 39, from Guatemala.
José Alfredo Bin, 27, from Guatemala. Deported from Mexico while he was trying to get to Miami, wants to go to U.S.A. to earn more money. In his bag has a pair of shorts, flip-flops, a pair of pants, two toothbrushes, deodorant, wallet, underwear, belt and a t-shirt of Real Madrid.
José Alfredo Bin, 27, from Guatemala.
Carlos Gomez, 34, from Guatemala. He already had lived in Miami for 10 years until he was deported five months ago. He t
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Emanuele Satolli
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See What Undocumented Immigrants Carry Across the Border

Jan 30, 2015

Covering immigration issues can prove challenging for photographers – and not because access can be, at times, tough to obtain. Instead, image-makers such as Emanuele Satolli have to find new ways to depict immigrants’ hardship in a saturated visual landscape.

In 2007, when the Italian photographer lived in Guatemala, he realized that immigration affected the large majority of people he encountered. “Some are saving money to go North, others are enjoying their new houses after spending a few years in the U.S., while many women have to take care of their families after their husbands left for the U.S.,” he says. “I was impressed to see that immigration had such a strong [impact] on life there. And that’s why I wanted to dig deeper into this topic.”

Yet, he didn’t want to produce yet another series that depicted immigrants “crossing rivers or jumping on trains in their attempt to reach the American dream,” he says. “I had to try to find a new way to talk about this.”

And that new take came after reading a recent TIME LightBox article. “I was really inspired by [TIME’s International Photo Editor] Alice Gabriner’s post where she talked about how photo editors and photographers should work together to overcome visual challenges. In that post, she explained how [photographer] Alexandra Boulat tried to find a new way to talk about the Palestinian tragedy.”

That was in 2006, when Boulat, who had documented wars since the 1990s, had grown frustrated of “photographing endless scenes of violence in the same way she had for years, fearing that these pictures had lost their impact,” Gabriner wrote. “As a result, she began taking different kinds of pictures, focusing on the ordinary and details of normal life.”

The ordinary and the details can be found in Satolli’s images of Central American immigrants. “I was interested in the few things these immigrants bring with them on this perilous and long journey,” he says. One man carried with him a small Virgin Mary statue, hair gel and toilet paper, among other objects. Another brought an extra pair of shoes, a bible, toilet paper and a cell phone, while another traveled with only one pair of glasses so “he’d look like a local,” says Satolli.

The 35-year-old photographer met most of his subjects at La Casa del Migrante, a refuge run by Scalabrinian missionaries in the border town of Tecún Umán in Guatemala where immigrants can get help and rest for two or three days.

Now, Satolli, who continues his work on immigration, hopes that his simple, yet powerful images will help humanize undocumented immigrants. It's an especially important goal he says, at a time when we’re inundated by images that are just the opposite—“in which [dramatic scenes] become ordinary"—and when immigration is likely to take a central role in U.S. politics this year and in 2016.

Emanuele Satolli is an Italian photojournalist based in Rome. TIME LightBox previously published his photo essay The World’s Deadliest Drug: Inside a Krokodil Cookhouse in 2013.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

Read next: The Best Pictures of the Week: Jan. 23 – Jan. 30

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