El Sueno Americano Project

© Thomas Kiefer

There is something inherently disturbing behind many of the images presented in El Sueno Americano Project that defies logical and rational explanation: Why was all this thrown away?

Working as a janitor from July 2003 until August 2014 I was greatly disturbed by the volume of food, clothing and personal belongings thrown away at a single U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility. For many of those years, I was allowed to collect and take the food transported by migrants, that was discarded during the first stages of processing, to our community food bank, an estimated sixty tons by the person who managed it.

The personal effects and belongings were another matter: Why would someone throw away a rosary or bible? Why would someone throw away a wallet? Why would a pair of shoes, for all intents and purpose “brand new”, be tossed in the trash?

The ideals upon which this country was founded seem to be under attack as never before, two hundred and thirty nine years since we declared ourselves a nation. “The beacon of hope”, fairness, democracy, equality, faith and grace seems more and more like a sales gimmick, limited to certain groups of people.

How we treat others is a reflection of who we are. When belts, shoelaces, toothbrushes, socks, shoes, underwear, pants, shirts, jackets, watches, bibles, wallets, coins, cell phones, keys, jewellery, calling-cards, water, food, soap, deodorant, gloves, medicine, birth control pills, blankets and rosaries are considered non-essential personal property and discarded, regardless of the amount and origin, something becomes less than human.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive