Immigration is one of the major divisive points in our nation's dialogue. While the issue has been contentious throughout US history, the rise of Donald Trump and his aggressive rhetoric has sparked a dramatic rise in the vindication of immigrants throughout the United States. Over 2.5 million people have already been deported under President Obama, and those numbers are projected to drastically increase during Trump's presidency.

With our blistering election behind us, some liberal cities are determined to take a stand against Trump's deportation policies, declaring themselves a "sanctuary city" which refuses to assist the federal government with any of its deportation efforts. The state of California has even taken this defiant stance one step further by beginning the precarious process of becoming the nation's first "sanctuary state".

This photographic project aims to document the ongoing struggle between immigrant communities and federal agents charged with the task of arresting and deporting those who came to the United States illegally. Additionally, the project will highlight the strain between federal immigration agents trying to operate inside a sanctuary city and how the struggle for state's rights affects their ability to operate.

This project will weave together a tapestry of stories from all sides by photographing undocumented immigrants, I.C.E. and border agents, naturalized citizens, and first generation Americans fearful that their family will be torn apart by deportations. To accomplish this goal, I will photograph immigrant communities around the bay area, central California, and accompany immigration agents in San Francisco and along the Arizona/Texas border with Mexico.

Using color photography, the goal of this project is to provide a deeper understanding to the immense issue of immigration and deportation by presenting humanizing visuals that represent both sides of the controversy during this critical moment in our nation's history.

Funding for this project will cover travel and housing costs including airfare, rental car, gas, motels, and insurance. Production will take place from February through June 2017 with the early stages of the project focusing on California sanctuary cities while the second phase would cover the US/Mexico border.

For the past six years, I've worked as a photojournalist covering conflict, war, and humanitarian disasters in countries including Syria, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Turkey, Kashmir, Myanmar, Thailand, and Argentina. Whether the story required gaining access to sensitive areas, documenting minors, or protecting sensitive sources, I strive to produce ethical and striking images that tell a visual narrative and guide the reader to better understand the experiences of the people I photograph.

With this opportunity, I aim to produce bold, meaningful work as a photojournalist that enshrines and carries on the documentary photography legacy of Dorothea Lange.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Kyle Merrit Ludowitz
December 6, 2016