TIME portfolio

Documenting Immigration From Both Sides of the Border

For the past eight years, Kirsten Luce has been documenting immigration issues between the U.S. and Mexico

On Nov. 20, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a series of executive actions to reform immigration laws in the United States. These new actions will protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation, expand border security, and create new programs to promote citizenship and legal immigration.


Photographer Kirsten Luce has been documenting both sides of the U.S.–Mexico border since 2006, when she became a staff photographer at The Monitor in the border town of McAllen, Texas. After moving to New York City in 2008, Luce had a shift in perspective and started to look at immigration issues from a national point of view, she says.

Earlier this year, immigration came back at the forefront of the national debate when a massive influx of unaccompanied minors and families crossed the border. “When I first started seeing the news in May and June,” Luce says, “I thought I was aware of how busy the border has been for a couple of years [and that] reports might be exaggerating things. I was wrong.”

Luce immediately went to Texas, embedding herself with local law enforcement. They encountered two groups of 12 women and children within an hour, and then another group several minutes later. “Normally, you go on a ride along, [and] you don’t see anything for a couple of hours,” says Luce. “You might see one group the whole time… [This time] it was surreal.”

And while news organizations usually had little interest for Luce’s work on immigration, suddenly “people wanted whatever pictures they could get from the Rio Grande Valley to try to understand this space that has become the focal point of the national debate on immigration,” she says. Since this summer, Luce has been able to publish every story that she has produced, with other journalists also reaching out to her for advice on how to work in the area.

Luce’s comprehensive body of work covers diverse aspects of immigration on both sides of the border – from illegal border crossing to border patrol agents, stash houses where migrants are kept on arrival in the US. She is well aware that, as a journalist, such access is hard to come by. Over the years, Luce has maintained good relations with several local law enforcement agencies and they have grown to trust her. And while she is not always allowed to ask migrants about their stories, Luce appreciates the law enforcement officers that give her a chance to document the situation while they do their jobs.

“My intention is to contribute to a dialogue on the current immigration system,” Luce says. She has seen the complex narrative of immigration evolve for years, and stresses the importance of understanding this fluid situation and the people it affects on both sides of the border.

Kirsten Luce is a freelance photographer based in New York City.

Marisa Schwartz is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

 

TIME World

Exclusive: 29 Instagrams That Defined the World in 2014

See some of the most powerful images shared on Instagram this year

As Instagram hit a milestone this month, with its number of monthly active users ballooning to 300 million, TIME, in association with the photo-sharing app, takes a look back at the key moments of 2014.

The selection of images, shared by some of Instagram’s most popular and respected photographers, offers an intimate view of some of the defining events of the year: From the toll of war in Gaza to the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and from the border between Mexico and the U.S. all the way to Mongolia, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.

“Real moments are captured and posted on Instagram every single day, from Nana Kofi Acquah’s image of a Tanzanian doctor timing a baby’s labored breathing using his mobile phone, to Brendan Hoffman’s haunting first reactions upon arriving at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine,” says Pamela Chen, Instagram’s Editorial Director. “These are just a sampling of the powerful images shared by people around the world in 2014.”

Read next: The Top 10 Photos of 2014

TIME Immigration

Largest U.S. Detention Center for Immigrant Families Opens in Texas

The South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley can house up to 2,400 people

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson opened on Monday what is being labeled the U.S.’ largest detention center for families who enter the country illegally.

The South Texas Family Residential Center, located on the grounds of a former camp for oil workers in Dilley, Texas, can house up to 2,400 people and will primarily be used for women and children, according to Reuters. It features dozens of small cabins to accommodate detained families along with medical facilities, a school and a playground.

The facility will mainly be managed by the Corrections Corporation of America and cost $296 per person per day to operate, according to an official from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency who attended the opening.

Johnson made use of the occasion to lambast Republicans in Congress for not fully funding the department he oversees. “If Congress is interested with me in supporting the border security measure we are outlining here today,” Johnson added, “it should act immediately on our budget request for fiscal 2015.”

[Reuters]

 

TIME Drugs

Texas Lawmaker Proposes Lower Marijuana Possession Penalties

File picture shows marijuana plants at a indoor cultivation in Montevideo
Marijuana plants are seen at a indoor cultivation. Andres Stapff—Reuters

A new bill would make the possession of up to one oz. punishable with a $100 ticket

On Monday, Texas State Rep. Joe Moody introduced a bill that would remove criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“Our current marijuana policy in Texas just isn’t working,” Moody said in a statement. “We need a new approach that allows us to more effectively utilize our limited criminal justice resources. This legislation is a much-needed step in the right direction.”

Under current Texas law, possessing up to two oz. of weed can yield six months of jail time and a $2,000 penalty. Under the proposal, adults caught with up to one oz. would get a $100 ticket, similar to a parking violation. Larger amounts would still lead to criminal penalties. The measure would make Texas the 20th state plus the District of Columbia to remove the threat of jail time for the possession of small amounts of weed.

The bill is backed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the pro-legalization group that spearheaded the passage of Colorado’s historic legalization measure. The bill is also the first in a series that the MPP expects to be introduced in Texas this year, the next attempting to legalize medical marijuana and the third attempting to legalize recreational marijuana.

The latter two are long shots, and the first won’t be an easy sell to the Republican-controlled legislature. Texas Governor Rick Perry has said he opposes legalization. He has intimated that he supports decriminalizing weed, but has also said that the state has “kind of done that.” In 2007, Texas passed a measure giving local governments the power to respond to marijuana possession with a summons rather than an arrest, but few counties have adopted it and someone issued a summons may still end up in jail.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, another pro-legalization group, says that Texas is in a tier of states that are the least likely to ease marijuana restrictions. These “third tier” states, he says, are ones in which “the legislature has never shown any want to move in this direction and/or there is an executive at the top who is going to oppose and veto any reforms.”

A poll commissioned by MPP in 2013 found that 61% of Texas residents would support a penalty reduction like the one Moody is proposing, while 58% would support the legalization of medical and recreational weed.

At a press conference on Monday, Moody was joined by representatives from other groups who support the bill, such as the ACLU of Texas and Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition. Support from such libertarian-leaning conservatives will be crucial in the heavily Republican state.

“Texas doesn’t seem to be ready for a full legal market,” acknowledges Heather Fazio, a representative for MPP in Texas. “That doesn’t mean that the conversation shouldn’t be happening.”

TIME Guns

Texas Considers Allowing Open Carry of Handguns

NRA Gathers In Houston For 2013 Annual Meeting
Vintage handguns are displayed during the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on May 5, 2013. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

"If open carry is good enough for Massachusetts, it's good enough for the state of Texas"

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Long depicted as the rootin’-tootin’ capital of American gun culture, Texas is one of the few states with an outright ban on the open carry of handguns.

That could change in 2015, with the Republican-dominated Legislature and Gov.-elect Greg Abbott expected to push for expanded gun rights.

“If open carry is good enough for Massachusetts, it’s good enough for the state of Texas,” Abbott said the day after his election last month.

And if Texas, which allows concealed handguns, embraces open carry — rolling back a 140-year ban — it would be the largest state to have done so.

Open carry drew wide support in the 2014 statewide election, and at least six bills have already been filed for the upcoming session, which starts in January. Abbott has already pledged to sign one into law if sent to his desk.

Coni Ross, a 63-year-old rancher in Blanco, carries a handgun in her purse for personal protection and said she’d like the option to carry it openly on her belt if she could. She already does when she’s on her ranch and feels comfortable with her gun by her side.

“In one-and-a-half seconds, a man can run 25 feet with a knife in his hands and stab you before you get your gun out,” Ross said. “If your weapon is concealed you’re dead.”

Most of the country already allows some form of open carry of handguns, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a California-based group advocating gun control legislation.

But Texas, California, Florida, New York, Illinois and South Carolina, which make up more than a third of the U.S. population and include six of its seven largest population centers, do not.

Large urban areas have traditionally had the strictest controls on weapons in public because of concerns over guns in crowds and crime control, said UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, author of “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America.” He said it’s “pretty surprising” that Texas still has an open carry ban that dates to the 1870s.

“We’ve been regulating guns in the interest of public safety, even in places like Texas, since the founding,” Winkler said. “The battle over open carry of guns in public remains one of the most heated in the gun debate today.”

Of the states that ban open carry, Texas easily has the most gun-friendly reputation.

From manufacturers to dealers, Texas has the most federal firearms license holders in the country. It has few restrictions on gun ownership, and Gov. Rick Perry and state lawmakers have actively lobbied gun makers to move to the state.

Texas allows the public display of long guns, such as rifles and shotguns, and open carry advocates have staged high-profile rallies at the Alamo and state Capitol. Concealed handguns are allowed inside the Capitol, where license holders can bypass metal detectors.

But Texas still insists handguns be kept out of sight.

Texas first banned the carrying of handguns “when the carpet-bagger government was very anxious about former Confederates and recently freed slaves carrying firearms,” state Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said.

Overturning a century of law proved difficult, and a concealed weapons law failed several times until it finally passed in 1995 when Patterson, then a state senator, led the charge. Texas now has about 811,000 concealed handgun license holders, nearly equal the population of San Francisco.

Even among gun supporters in Texas, the idea of open carry was considered too radical when the concealed carry law passed. Since then, the Legislature has expanded gun rights incrementally. It made the licensing of concealed handguns easier and, during the last three sessions, held heated debates over concealed handguns on college campuses. Open carry backers believe these debates helped rally support to their cause and that an open carry law will pass.

Open carry opponents, such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety in America, say carrying guns on the street is less about gun rights than intimidation.

“There is no way to know … if that person is a threat to moms and our children,” said Claire Elizabeth, who heads the group’s Texas chapter.

Despite the early momentum, there are no guarantees open carry will pass. Bills to allow concealed handguns on college campus appeared to have widespread support in 2009, 2011 and 2013, but were derailed by objections from universities and law enforcement.

Most of the open carry bills already filed for the upcoming session would still require a license. One, by Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, would eliminate the licensing requirement for concealed or open carry.

“The idea is we’re going to return our Second Amendment rights,” Stickland said. “I can’t imagine what the citizens would do if they had to take a class or pay a fee to use their First Amendment rights.”

TIME ebola

Dallas Spent $27,000 Caring for Ebola Nurse’s Dog

Nurse Nina Pham is reunited with her dog Bentley
Nina Pham holds up her dog Bentley, at Hensley Field in Grand Prairie, Texas, Nov. 1, 2014. Juan Guajardo—AP

The pet of Nina Pham

Dallas rang up a $27,000 bill while caring for the dog of a nurse who contracted Ebola in October and was quarantined for three weeks, according to a list of expenses publicized Wednesday.

Most of the cost to care for Nina Pham’s dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Bentley that was isolated as a precautionary measure, was covered by private donations and grants, NBC News reports. The city’s total bill for its Ebola crisis added up to more than $155,000.

Nina Pham was one of two nurses who were treated for Ebola after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with the virus in the U.S., and who later died. Pham was successfully treated and completed a 21-day quarantine period to ensure she was not a threat to the public upon her release.

[NBC News]

TIME

Morning Must Reads: December 3

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Woman Sues Bill Cosby Alleging Child Sexual Abuse

A southern California woman sued Bill Cosby on Tuesday, becoming the latest of more than a dozen women to allege sexual assault, claiming the comedian molested her around 1974 when she was 15 in a bedroom at the Playboy Mansion

Who Should Be Person of the Year?

Cast your vote for the person you think most influenced the news this year — for better or worse. Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. E.T. on Dec. 6

Israeli Leader Looks to Reboot

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s move to sack two ministers and call for elections cemented his interest in establishing a right-wing government

Transgender Teen Awarded $75,000

A court in Maine awarded the family of a transgender teenager $75,000 in a lawsuit against a school district that forced the student to use a staff restroom rather than one for pupils. The district was told to let students use restrooms “consistent with their gender identity”

National Guard Pulls Back From Ferguson

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced a National Guard drawdown in Ferguson as protests continue to subside in the St. Louis suburb, roughly a week after boosting security following the announcement that a grand jury would not indict police officer Darren Wilson

China Tumbles in Annual Corruption Index

China fell 20 spots in this year’s corruption rankings, despite President Xi Jinping’s massive campaign to weed out graft that has disciplined more than 60,000 government officials. Denmark held onto first place as the country seen as least corrupt

Walking Dead Spinoff Casts First 2 Actors

The Walking Dead companion series has cast its first two victims, er, actors: British actor Frank Dillane and Alycia Debnam Care. The young actors will play the kids of one of the show’s main characters, a female guidance counselor who is not yet cast

Obama Renews Calls for $6 Billion Ebola Fund

U.S. President Barack Obama renewed his call for Congress to approve more than $6 billion in funding to help tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. “If we want other countries to keep stepping up, we will have to continue to lead the way,” said Obama

Decision in Chokehold Case Imminent

A decision is expected soon on whether or not to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo over the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner. Garner died in July after being put into what appeared to be a banned chokehold by Pantaleo

Rolling Stones Sax Player Bobby Keys Dies at 70

Bobby Keys, the saxophone player who performed with the Rolling Stones on many of their biggest hits, along with other acts like The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Lennon, died on Dec. 2 at his home in Franklin, Tenn.

Texas to Kill Schizophrenic Man

Scott Panetti, who is scheduled to die on Wednesday, becoming the state’s 11th execution this year, has a long history of severe mental illness. In 1992, Panetti shaved his head, dressed himself in camo and fatally shot his in-laws in front of his wife and daughter

Bipartisan Push to Improve Military’s Handling of Sex Assault

The former chief prosecutor of the Air Force has thrown his weight behind Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s second push to change how the military handles sexual-assault allegations. The bill needed only five more votes last time

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TIME Crime

Texas Plans to Execute a Schizophrenic Man Who Tried to Subpoena Jesus

Scott Panetti
In this Nov. 19, 1999 file photo, Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti talks during a prison interview in Huntsville, Texas, where he is on death row for the 1992 murder of his wife's parents. Panetti's execution is set for Dec. 3, 2014. Scott Coomer—AP

Scott Panetti, who is scheduled to die Wednesday, has a long history of severe mental illness

In 1992, Scott Panetti shaved his head, dressed himself in camo and fatally shot his in-laws in front of his wife and daughter. Afterward, he put on a suit and surrendered to police.

At his trial, Panetti wore a cowboy costume and acted as his own lawyer, waiving his right to counsel. He applied for 200 subpoenas that included John F. Kennedy and Jesus Christ. He asked prospective jurors whether they had any Indian blood in them. His opening statement referenced demons. And he referred to himself as Sergeant Iron Horse when he confessed to killing his wife’s parents. It wasn’t Scott who killed them, he said. It was Sarge.

Panetti’s defense appeared to be that of a seriously ill man. And by most accounts, he was. First diagnosed with early schizophrenia in 1978, Panetti had been in and out of a dozen mental hospitals over 14 years, regularly determined to have paranoia, depression, delusions and hallucinations and eventually deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration, qualifying him for monthly benefits before he turned 30. Since that first diagnosis, Panetti came to see life as a cosmic battle between good and evil, one in which he—or Sarge, or the other voices in his head—played a role.

In one instance, Panetti’s first wife came home to find that he had buried his furniture in the front yard because he believed he needed to purge Satan from the objects. In an affidavit, she said she believed her husband should be involuntarily committed and that he had become “obsessed with the idea that the devil was in our house.” Panetti’s explanation for killing the parents of his second wife was similar, according to his lawyers and court documents: the shootings were “Sarge’s” attempt to get rid of the devil he believed was inside his in-laws.

(MORE: Ohio Looks to Shield Lethal Injection Drugmakers)

In 1995, a jury found Panetti guilty and sentenced him to death. That sentence comes due Wednesday, when Panetti is scheduled to die by lethal injection. To some, it will be justice finally being served. But to Panetti’s lawyers and other supporters, the planned execution is unconstitutional, and evidence of a capital punishment system in dire need of reform.

Panetti’s attorneys are appealing to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for a last-minute stay of execution, arguing that Panetti doesn’t understand he’s being executed for the double murder. They say Panetti hasn’t been given a competency hearing in seven years, and they believe his mental state has deteriorated since then. Panetti’s attorneys are challenging an earlier denial by an appeals court to hold a competency hearing, while also seeking a stay of execution from the Supreme Court on the grounds that putting to death someone who is mentally ill is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

So far, courts haven’t been receptive to those arguments. Several witnesses for the state of Texas have testified that Panetti is competent and has an understanding of his crime. The state has provided hours of audio recordings of Panetti discussing the murders in which he “spoke rationally, demonstrated a fairly sophisticated understanding of his case, and discussed in an intelligent manner the death penalty and its moral implications,” according to court documents.

Kathryn Kase, executive director of the Texas Defender Service who is representing Panetti, questions those accounts and says that his history with mental illness alone should be enough to prevent him from being executed.

(MORE: Utah Looks to Old Execution Method: Firing Squad)

“This is not a situation where a guy gets admitted to a hospital once and comes out and commits a crime,” Kase says. “These were multiple hospital admissions over a 12-year period. This is a pretty astonishing and well-documented history of mental illness. Nobody exists for 36 years like this in an effort to get off the hook of criminal responsibility.”

Dozens of mental health professionals and organizations have come out in support of clemency for Panetti, including the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and Mental Health America. But time is running out.

Panetti would be the 11th inmate executed in Texas this year, the most of any state. For years, Texas has killed more death row inmates than any other state.

Kase, who visited Panetti a couple weeks ago, says his mental health is worsening, possibly due to stress related to the upcoming execution date.

“He is extremely paranoid, and he is delusional,” Kase says. “And these delusions are that the prison wants to kill him to prevent him from preaching the gospel on death row or telling others about corruption at TDCJ [the Texas Department of Criminal Justice]. We’re not psychologists. We’re not mental health professionals. But we do know we’re seeing something really terrible happen.”

Read next: 103-Year-Old Texas Woman Fights to Keep Her House

TIME Crime

Austin Police: More Than 100 Rounds Fired

A gunman identified by law enforcement sources as Larry Steve McQuilliams targeted buildings in downtown Austin including the Mexican consulate before being shot and killed by police on Nov. 28, 2014.
A gunman identified by law enforcement sources as Larry Steve McQuilliams targeted buildings in downtown Austin including the Mexican consulate before being shot and killed by police on Nov. 28, 2014. Laura Skelding—AP

(AUSTIN, Texas) — A gunman attempted to set the Mexican Consulate ablaze and fired more than 100 rounds at downtown buildings early Friday before he died, Austin authorities said.

Investigators were trying to determine the man’s motives after he began shooting at the consulate, Austin police headquarters, the U.S. courthouse and other locations.

Some of the buildings are near the popular Sixth Street entertainment district, where bars close at 2 a.m., about the same time the shootings began Friday. Police Chief Art Acevedo noted that thousands of people are typically on the street at that time.

“Many, many rounds were fired in downtown Austin,” Acevedo said. “With all the people on the streets, we’re very fortunate. I give thanks that no one but the suspect is injured or deceased.”

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department issued a statement expressing “profound concern and condemnation” of the attack, but also said “there is no evidence the shots were exclusively directed at our facility.”

Acevedo said a sergeant who was holding the reins of two police horses after his patrol shot the gunman just outside the main entrance to police headquarters. But Acevedo said it’s not clear if police fatally shot the suspect or if he took his own life.

Police said the shooter was a man about 50 years old and with a criminal record. His identity was not immediately released and Acevedo said investigators had not yet established a motive.

The shooter’s targets were located throughout downtown Austin and officers received multiple reports of gunfire. The entire incident lasted about 10 minutes from the first call, Acevedo said.

Officers approached the man after he had been shot, but noticed cylinders in his vehicle, which was nearby, and discovered he was wearing a vest they thought may be rigged to explode. Officers retreated and a bomb squad was called. It was later determined the items were not explosive.

“Anytime you have cylinders like this with someone attacking government buildings, you have to think of explosive devices,” Acevedo said in describing the officers’ caution.

The suspect’s white van was still on the street outside police headquarters several hours after the shooting with all of its doors, the trunk and hood open while investigators looked it over.

The fire at the consulate was extinguished before any significant damage was done to the building. The federal courthouse’s guard house was shot several times, as was police headquarters, which Acevedo said was “extensively damaged.”

The governor’s mansion is a few blocks away from the police station; it’s not known whether Gov. Rick Perry was there at the time. Perry’s staff did not immediately return telephone and email messages seeking comment.

A police tactical team later went to an Austin apartment complex where the gunman lived as precaution. The FBI also was participating in the investigation.

Adam Peyton awoke Friday to the sight of SWAT vehicles and police officers on motorcycles in his southwest Austin neighborhood near the city’s well-known Zilker Park. Authorities evacuated some of Peyton’s neighbors close to the apartment where the gunman is believed to have lived.

Peyton described the area as “really laid back” and close-knit, where residents know each other and are often out walking their dogs.

“As soon as they show his face, we’ll instantly know,” he said.

TIME Crime

Suspected Shooter Dead in Downtown Austin Gunfire

Suspect shot and condition unknown

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Austin police say a gunman suspected of opening fire on several downtown buildings and police headquarters has died after being shot.

According to their verified Twitter account, Austin police say the male suspect died early Friday in what authorities call an officer-involved shooting.

Police did not immediately say who fatally shot the suspect. Police say the man had targeted “multiple downtown buildings” in the gunfire before dawn.

Austin-Travis County EMS reports the incident led to part of Interstate 35 through downtown Austin being closed as officers tried to secure the scene.

Further details weren’t immediately available.

Austin police didn’t immediately a message for comment Friday.

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