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TUESDAY April 27, 2021: LOST IN LIMBO by award winning photographer Raquel Natalicchio who specializes in social justice issues: In the weeks after Joe Biden's inauguration, migrants in the city of Tijuana began to come together as a community to help each other survive as they wait for an asylum solution from the Mexican and United States authorities. Many could not afford the shelters in the city as they have no way of working or making money legally so the tent encampment has become their only option. In March, it had grown to more than 1,000 people, and today is a temporary home to almost 2,000 migrants. In the small tent city where there's no running water people have come together as a community to survive. Hoping that the doors to the USA might soon open, they set up camp at the very foot of the country's entrance right across from the El Chaparral Port of Entry. These asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries want to cross legally but are forced to put their lives at risk and cross illegally as they feel they are not safe staying in Mexico, fearing retribution and violence. Critics say the President's welcoming tone is encouraging illegal immigration, but the migrants themselves have a different view, that the real problem is that the current US President hasn't figured out how he will honor their basic human right to seek asylum. Welcome to: LOST IN LIMBO
© Story of the Week #784: TUESDAY April 27, 2021: LOST IN LIMBO by award winning photographer Raquel Natalicchio who specializes in social justice issues: In the weeks after Joe Biden's inauguration, migrants in the city of Tijuana began to come together as a community to help each other survive as they wait for an asylum solution from the Mexican and United States authorities. Many could not afford the shelters in the city as they have no way of working or making money legally so the tent encampment has become their only option. In March, it had grown to more than 1,000 people, and today is a temporary home to almost 2,000 migrants. In the small tent city where there's no running water people have come together as a community to survive. Hoping that the doors to the USA might soon open, they set up camp at the very foot of the country's entrance right across from the El Chaparral Port of Entry. These asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries want to cross legally but are forced to put their lives at risk and cross illegally as they feel they are not safe staying in Mexico, fearing retribution and violence. Critics say the President's welcoming tone is encouraging illegal immigration, but the migrants themselves have a different view, that the real problem is that the current US President hasn't figured out how he will honor their basic human right to seek asylum. Welcome to: LOST IN LIMBO
Crosses taped up to the border wall in Tijuana. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 7,216 people have died crossing the U.S Mexico border between 1998 and 2017.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Migrant family walks across a bridge over the El Chaparral Camp on their way to the center of Tijuana, to look for work.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
A mother and her children sit in-front of their tent as they wait for a response from the US or Mexican government on what plan will be set in place for her and her family to seek asylum within the US. 'Everyone here is fleeing persecution and threats to their life. Many people find it very easy to judge our situation. We have no other option to survive. I am here for my children. I want to work and give them a structured life.'
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
A mural is painted on the last few hundred feet of the border wall between US and Mexico in Tijuana.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Hundreds of asylum-seekers are camping out at the El Chaparral plaza on Mexican side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
All day and night this sign reading; 'Que la espera no te aburra.' Don't let the wait bore you' flashes over hundreds of asylum seekers tents within the Chaparral encampment in Tijuana. Several asylum seekers camped here say that it's like a slap in the face every time they look at it.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Haitian refugees hold hands during a sunset as they look at the wall standing between them and the US on Mexican side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
A migrant woman holds her bible, one of the only things she still has from her home. 'I would like the United States to give us a clear message. What will happen to us who are here waiting? We are afraid of being in Mexico and of the possibility of returning to our country. We just want to be given the opportunity to come to the United States so that we can move forward. So that our children have a better future.'
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
A teacher gives a lesson to students of the Escuelita El Chaparral, a school formed by volunteer asylum seekers from within the El Chaparral Camp in Tijuana. 'I saw a lot of kids at camp running around everywhere. With some notebooks and pencils we started La Escuelita to keep the children busy with things that will serve them in the future. Children need good education, food and good health. Nobody wants to live in the conditions we are in.'
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Migrant woman sits in her tent that forms part of an encampment formed by asylum seekers that have been waiting months at the Tijuana, Mexico - USA border. 'I wouldn't leave my nation, where I was born and raised, for something that is not worth it. Life is the most substantial thing that is worthwhile. If I had not been a victim of femicide, I would not have left my country. It is very sad to be tortured, threatened, to live in fear, that is not life.'
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Children write in chalk 'Dejenos Pasar Biden' (Let us in Biden) on the street where the Chaparral Camp continues to grow in Tijuana.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Child holds a piece of chalk while playing in El Chaparral plaza on Mexican side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
A woman sits waiting in front of her tent stationed at the El Chaparral plaza on Mexican side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. 'We have been waiting for a response from the United States authorities for 44 days. We all have the right to life and the right for asylum.'
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
A young girl braids a boys hair at the Chaparral Camp in Tijuana. Children comprise at least 30 per cent of migrants in Mexican shelters according to UNICEF. Half have travelled without their parents, which is among the highest proportions ever recorded in Mexico.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
A man tweezes a woman's eyebrows outside at the El Chaparral migrant camp in Tijuana.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Migrant children gather to play with roller blades and skateboards in El Chaparral plaza on Mexican side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Children play with bubbles besides a man and a woman who once were strangers and now have become friends, taking a moment to hug each other at the Chaparral migrant encampment in Tijuana.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Asylum seekers gather to wash their families clothes on a donated washing machine powered by bike pedals at the center of El Chaparral Camp in Tijuana.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Asylum seekers volunteer to help prepare one of three meals served daily in the community kitchen in El Chaparral plaza on Mexican side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Armed Mexican national guardsmen drive a Humvee through the El Chaparral migrant encampment in Tijuana.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
The view from Tijuana, looking over to the American side of the border wall that ends in the Pacific Ocean.
© Raquel Natalicchio/ZUMA Wire
Raquel Natalicchio ZUMA Press photographer

ZUMA Press photographer Raquel Natalicchio is a visual storyteller and educator currently residing in Los Angeles, CA. 'As a storyteller I believe in the power of image and story as having the ability to not only inspire but also expand our awareness. Images allow us to dive into all the layers of our world and gain a greater understanding of our environment and each other.' Her passion for education led Raquel to work as a teaching artist for non profit after school art programs, developing photography curriculums centered around themes like self love for teen girls. In September of 2017, her first book was published, 'Spray for Peace', a compilation of inspirational stories and messages from LA graffiti legends to the next generation of artists. She toured nationwide with Road Trip Nation as an ambassador and motivational speaker. Recently she has focused on photo documenting social justice issues in the United States. Raquel is available for assignments via ZUMA Press.:784



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