Local photographer illuminates the many faces of immigration

May 15, 2019News Article

Local photographer illuminates the many faces of immigration

Menlo Park resident Mark Tuschman has earned accolades for his international photography exploring topics such as human rights and global health.

Now, he has turned his eye – and his photographic lens – closer to home to explore a topic that resonates with him on a deep personal level: immigration.

It’s a topic, he says, that symbolizes the extent of polarization in the U.S. He sees rising anti-immigrant rhetoric, he told The Almanac, as “the old fascist 101 playbook,” which uses discrimination to consolidate power “instead of working together to solve complex problems.”

Ecosystems thrive best when they’re diverse, he says. As proof, just watch the new Netflix documentary series “Our Planet” (narrated by David Attenborough), a show he’s recently been enjoying, he adds.

Immigrants have always played an important role in shaping the U.S., he says. Go back far enough into one’s ancestry and you’ll find people who came to America for the same reasons they’re coming now.

In his family, he says, it was his grandparents who came to the U.S. from Russia at the turn of the century. He credits his own life to their move. Had they tried to immigrate later in the 20th century, after the U.S. restricted immigration for Jewish refugees, they might have become victims of the Holocaust, he notes.

“I see how immigrants are being used as a political scapegoat,” he says. “It’s important for me to do something.”

For him, that something was a project that’s occupied his time over the last 15 months or so: to shoot portraits of immigrants from all walks of life, many of whom are from Northern California, and some of whom are local residents. Some are undocumented, some have green cards; others have H-1B visas, or temporary status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. Some have full citizenship. They also span a wide socioeconomic spectrum. All of them, as he demonstrates on his project’s website, immigrantsareUS.org, have powerful stories to share.

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