AP reporter Christopher Sherman and photographer Rodrigo Abd went on a two-week journey along the U.S.-Mexico border to see what's happening on the ground. They started in Brownsville, Texas / Matamoros, Mexico and finished in San Diego, California / Tijuana, Mexico.
Day 16: The last stop, and looking back
The smells and sounds of Tijuana smack us as soon as we open the doors of our bug-splattered rental Jeep: food stalls selling roasted corn, churros and hot dogs; a near-empty bar blaring the oompa-oompas of norteno, Mexico’s answer to polka.
For two weeks we’ve been hauling around a massive black plastic case that fills nearly the entire trunk of our Jeep. It’s a huge space-suck and has also caught the suspicious eyes of customs officials on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border _ at least until we open it.
The man approaching on the shoulder of the road is wearing hiking boots, a wide-brim hat, a red bandanna and well-worn work gloves that each grip two wooden walking sticks.
We’ve stopped to check out an American flag fluttering above a bronze plaque honoring Border Patrol agent David Webb, who died in a car accident here in 2006. There’s virtually no traffic on this remote highway, and he’s the first person we’ve seen walking the long, straight ribbon of asphalt.
Day 13: Ranching in a smugglers’ corridor
President Donald Trump’s promise to put a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border will depend largely on decisions made in Washington. But there are lots of people in Arizona who are doing all they can to either stop it or get it built.
Day 12: Video - Meet me at the Fence
PHOTOS: Daily life on the border
Driving north out of Columbus, New Mexico, we run into a pro-Associated Press Border Patrol agent who is surprisingly well-versed in the founding of our news agency.
The agent, who's at one of the many Border Patrol checkpoints inside the United States that we've passed through, notices Rodrigo editing video on his laptop in the passenger seat and asks if we're making a documentary. We tell him about our project, driving from one end of the U.S.-Mexico border to the other for the AP.
Day 10: Cross-border schools
Every morning about 1,200 kids in backpacks and sneakers arrive at the U.S. port of entry on the border with Puerto Palomas, Mexico, a sleepy crossing of just a couple of car lanes flanked by tall steel fencing.
Day 9: A Fence in the Desert
Every 30 minutes, a three-man crew of U.S. workers outside El Paso, Texas, welds another segment of steel border fence into place. The sections are 6 feet wide and 20 feet tall capped by solid panels, replacing a shorter chain-link fence that looks like something you’d find at a Little League field.
Day 8: Images of the Existing Border Fence
PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes
Photographs of AP news team Christopher Sherman and Rodrigo Abd as they travel the US-Mexico border to report for their border travelogue. See the entire series at Tales from the Border.
Day 7: Nature’s big, beautiful border wall
At parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, crossing means simply taking a single step. Elsewhere it might involve soaking your shoes or going for a swim.
Then there are places like Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park, West Texas, where the geology creates natural barriers that are formidable and striking to behold. Here the Rio Grande slides between two sheer cliff faces, one in Mexico and one in the United States, that tower 1,500 feet above the water.
Day 6: Video - Reflections Along the Border
Strange currents often collide at borders.
The woman peeking out from the windowless, cinderblock-and-wood house in Reynosa recognizes me right away.
Day 3: Scraping by along the border
It’s not just the American dream that draws people north to the U.S.-Mexico border. For more than 20 years, people from all over Mexico have moved to cities like Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juarez to work in assembly plants known as maquiladoras, which make or assemble everything from shoes and garments to toys and electronics, most of it for export to the United States.
Day 2: Fewer Migrants Risking the Border
At the Senda de Vida migrant shelter in Reynosa, Mexico, workers are putting the finishing touches on a spectacular new soccer field with plush artificial turf, lights and bleachers. If a shot were to sail long it could land in the Rio Grande, which runs between the city and McAllen, Texas.
Video: Hard times for street side musician in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
Day 1: The Meandering Border. Brownsville-Matamoros
Driving through Matamoros, Mexico, and its sister city Brownsville, Texas, feels like a homecoming. From 2008 to 2014 I was the AP’s correspondent in the Rio Grande Valley, which many locals consider a single binational community with a river running through it. One of the first stories I covered back then was the border fence; dozens of miles of it have since been built. It’s an 18-foot-tall see-through barrier designed to make crossing tougher for migrants and smugglers. It has also divided farmers from fields that have been in the family for generations, and even put a golf course out of business after it found itself on the wrong side.
About the Travelogue: Tales from the Border
President Donald Trump has promised to build a wall along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border stretching from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Ocean, crack down on illegal immigration and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.