At The Border is a long-form written piece, photography and stand-alone video I did for Red Canary Magazine. The subject here is Pastor Albert Rivera who I first interviewed for another long story for Los Angeles Magazine in 2018, The Last Caravan. Those two stories and Rise of the American Favela, (my other RCM story) all edited by Joe Donnelly.

I’ve been doing photography and video for all long-form pieces since the LA Weekly days.

At the Border With The Patron Saint of Transmutation 

* (Winner – 1st place, Immigration Reporting –  Los Angeles Press Club SoCal Journalism Awards 2022 – Judges’ comment: Sam Slovick draws his readers in through the stories surrounding the Tijuana areas and allows the space for them to connect personally with both the setting and its characters. After reading this piece, his audience is able to better understand the plight of the immigrants at the border, yet also understand the implications left by bureaucratic policy that prevented an easy ingress from Nueva Aurora, past Zona Norte and into “el norte.” This was a well articulated and balanced article that leaves readers hungry to continue probing the struggles of immigrants.)


Two little girls in Sunday dresses play in the church at Ágape Misión Mundial, a shelter in the Nueva Aurora neighborhood of Tijuana, Mexico serving dispossessed migrants. Nearby, church services are gearing up in a big room with orange walls, sheer red curtains and tidy rows of white plastic chairs that fill quickly as a four-piece band warms up. Keyboard, bass and drums open with a chorus of “The Blessing,” a popular evangelical anthem. Singer Julio Garcia sets the tone for today’s service: gratitude. As a child, Garcia’s family worked in the old Tijuana landfill that the church was built on. Now, he’s about to graduate from law school. Like the rest of the young parishioners in the band, the church sponsored his education.

Across the border, a new administration has inspired a cautious sense of optimism for migrants here as Sunday services get underway. Francisca López, a woman in her 40s, pours out her soul to Jesus Cristo as others gather in front of the low stage. “Gracias, Señor! Gracias, Señor!” she prays.

Colored lights strobe as the sound system threatens to buckle under the bass. It’s 11:00 a.m., 20 minutes into the devotional service when Tony, a visually impaired parishioner in his 60s, breaks into an emotional testimonial. He plays tambourine in a spirited dance, then genuflects.

The room is packed a little tighter on Sundays, but the devotional service is a daily ritual here in the church at Ágape Misión Mundial, a sanctuary for some asylum seekers. Perched on a big hill, down a rutty road off a main thoroughfare, the compound was constructed nearly two decades ago on top of a landfill that was decommissioned in 2002, long before Mexico had adopted environmental regulations.

Full Story at Red Canary Magazine  –

Pastor Rivera_photo by Sam Slovick

Girls play in the church at the Ágape Misión avast cleanup premium key lifetime Mundial migrant shelter in Tijuana_photo by Sam Slovick


New Patriot at the Chaparral Migrant Camp in Tijuana_Sam Slovick

Ágape Misión photoshop crack ita mac Mundial shelter entrance_Sam Slovick

Carmen with her sever fingers freshly bandaged_Sam Slovick

Pastor Rivera in his office at the shelter_Sam Slovick

Migrants from Agape feed the migrants at the Chaparral Camp_Sam Slovick

Stuffed toy in the street at the Chaparral Migrant Camp_photo by Sam Slovick

Teens at the Ágape Misión Mundial shelter_photo by Sam Slovick

Young migrant at the Chaparral Camp_photo by Sam Slovick

Eco Waste from the Pastor’s office at the Ágape Misión Mundial shelter_photo by Sam Slovick

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.