The Rise and Fall of the Tornillo Tent City for Migrant Children

Since early October, Joshua Rubin has camped outside a tent facility in the El Paso County town of Tornillo that has housed thousands of migrant children, seeking to bear witness to what he considered an awful injustice. The 66-year-old software developer from Brooklyn watched the daily movement of the camp and noticed that the children enjoyed their only moments of freedom on the soccer field.

“One of the things that struck me every time is how much effort those kids spent in kicking those balls over the high nets that they put up, over to freedom. You go around back there (beyond the camp fence) and you’re going to find dozens of soccer balls that have been kicked out. It takes a special effort to get them out, but symbolically it was quite moving to see,” said Rubin, who created a Facebook page called “Witness: Tornillo” to document what he and others were seeing. The balls booted to freedom often bore the signatures of children who were interned at the facility, many of them for months.

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