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for people who care about the West

See the landscapes that a border wall would bisect

Terrain along the Mexico border ignores the man-made divide.


On March 17, the Customs and Border Protection agency released a memo with clues about what President Donald Trump’s controversial border wall might look like. The report stated the design of the wall would be “physically imposing.” Contractors have until the end of March to submit proposals. But as Trump seeks to drastically alter the landscape along the border, photographer Daniel Lombardi spent six weeks traveling along between Mexico and the West, from West Texas to California, capturing the landscapes in which history has sliced a political line. Lombardi sought to document how the landscape would reflect the divisive debate that surrounds it.

Many unauthorized immigrants travel to the American West from Mexico and Central America; it’s along this contentious southern border that President Donald Trump has promised to expand to limit unauthorized immigration. The borderlands are hot and harsh, and the people who make the journey risk being caught or dying in the desert. Lombardi’s images show an unexpected truth in this divided place: political divisions are indiscernible in the geography. 

Culturally, he found few dividing lines. Instead there were places where people and societies on both sides of the border overlapped and mixed together. Even geographically distinct lines — rivers and canyons — that mark the border seemed to make political matters more complex. In other areas, the landscapes are not easily separated: Along one southwestern vista, a man-made border started and stopped where the terrain became too rugged for a fence.