These 13 powerful portraits of undocumented immigrants humanize illegal immigration.

When most of us hear "illegal immigration," there's not one face that comes to mind.

Because there isn't one. Most undocumented immigrants in the United States live in the shadows to avoid deportation. Many have to spend time in "drop houses" — shady locations crammed with undocumented immigrants as they are smuggled into the country.

Whenever there's a drop house bust and local media show up, those caught coming into the country illegally are usually quick to shield their faces from the cameras. Anonymity is key, which makes this photo series that much more intriguing.


Photographer John Moore managed to put a face — a lot of faces actually — on this important issue plaguing our society.

He shot these gripping images at shelters for undocumented immigrants in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Here are 13 mesmerizing portraits of undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation.

1. Jorge, 62, is from Guatemala. He worked in the U.S. for eight months before being detained and deported.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

2. Cruz, 18, is from Sinaloa, Mexico. At the time of this photo, he was planning to cross the border illegally for the first time in a few days.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

3. Gilberto, 28, is from Chiapas, Mexico. He worked as a farm laborer in Washington state for five years before being arrested for driving without a license.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

4. Flor, 19, is also from Chiapas. She was caught in Arizona by Border Patrol agents on her first attempt to cross the border illegally.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

5. This man who chose not to give his name is from Oaxaca, Mexico. At the time of this photo, he planned to try to cross the border into the U.S. in the next few days.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

6. Silvia, 29, is from Chiapas. She was abandoned in the desert by a "coyote," or human smuggler, whom she paid to bring her into the U.S.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

7. Eduardo, 23, and Elvira, 22, are from Honduras. They both lost a leg under a freight train while trying to cross into the U.S.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

8. Daniela, 20, also from Honduras, is transgender. She's waiting for agents to process paperwork so she can be deported by bus. It's considered the safest route because of her gender orientation.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

9. Melvin, 16, is from Honduras. At the time this photo was taken, he planned to board a freight train later that night to try and find work in San Francisco.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

10. Javier, 14, is from Guatemala. He also planned to board a freight train later that night and try to make it all the way to New Jersey to find work.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

11. Consuelo, 42, and her 15-year-old daughter are from El Salvador. They've been at a shelter four months following their deportation.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

12. Carlos, 36, is from Guatemala. He also planned to hop on a freight train and try to make it to New Orleans, where he previously worked in construction.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

13. Genenis, 20, and her 25-year-old husband, Jose, are from El Salvador. They also planned to travel by freight train later that night headed to Houston.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

We can often forget that these people are human. Yes, they're breaking the law as they search for a better way of life in the U.S., but at the end of the day, they're people too. These gripping portraits are a powerful, visual reminder of that.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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President Biden/Twitter, Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter

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Today, President Biden spoke to these issues in straightforward language before signing four executive actions that aim to:

- promote fair housing policies to redress historical racial discrimination in federal housing and lending

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True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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