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Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication students Branden Eastwood and Michel Duarte spent a semester during the 2010-2011 school year photographing people along the U.S.-Mexico border and in Mexico under a grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The students worked under the direction of Brad Armstrong, former photo editor at the East Valley Tribune and a Buffett Visiting Professor of Photojournalism at the Cronkite School.
Every winter thousands of Mexican farm workers endure a season of backbreaking work in order to supply the U.S. with lettuce and make a living. Most workers get up around 4 a.m. to make the trip across the border, traveling in old school buses that take them to the fields. Although they only make about $8.50 an hour, this is still a coveted job among Mexicans who live in the border area of Yuma, Ariz.
Violence has become a way of life in Juarez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, just south of El Paso, Texas. Since the Mexican drug wars escalated, the murder rate has soared to one of the highest in the world; there were more than 3,000 homicides in 2010 alone. Targets often include police officers and women. The violence toward women has become so bad that it is known locally as Los Feminicidios, or the femicides. Federal police have poured into the city to try to put a stop to the violence, but many of those who can leave do so. More than 200,000 people have fled the city and 40 percent of the businesses have shut down, according to some estimates. Still, those who remain do their best to get on with their lives.