RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas — Carlos, a 12-year-old middle-school student, waits alone for over an hour outside his locked house. Then his cousins and siblings start trickling in from elementary school and high school, and Carlos’ mother Marta drives up with groceries. She also brings his two youngest brothers, four-year-old Diego and little Raul, just four months old.
In all, 11 other children will join Carlos at the small, four-room house leased in a colonia in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas. The early-evening sun bakes the westward face of the house, keeping the front door open and the kids on the move while Marta prepares tostadas for dinner. You might think that 12 children running through a house would indicate a birthday party or some other special occasion, but this has been the scene every day for the past several weeks.
The 12 children are from three families, and they’ve been living together — doubling and tripling up in beds and the couch at night — ever since their parents were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. Carlos’ dad, uncle and two aunts were detained within the last four months, and they’ll likely be deported for immigration-related infractions. That leaves only Marta to keep the kids fed, in school and happy.
This is life on the border. This is an American family.

Marguerite Casey Foundation has commissioned this series, "America’s Family Album: Seeing the Unseen," by photographer Mike Kane. Kane is based in Seattle and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Mother Jones and The Guardian. On Instagram, he is @kaneinane. This content was posted on Aug. 6, 2019. With Equal Voice, we challenge how people think and talk about poverty in America. All original and contracted Equal Voice content – articles, photos and videos – can be reproduced for free, as long as proper credit and a link to our homepage are included. 2019 © Marguerite Casey Foundation