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Complete Strangers Share Their Opposing Views On US Immigration

Complete Strangers Share Their Opposing Views On US Immigration

"It’s rare that anyone changes their minds and if I’m being honest, I didn’t expect any changed opinions, but thankfully I was wrong."

Posted on July 25, 2018, at 12:52 p.m. ET

Jeremy Cowart

Photographer Jeremy Cowart's series of portraits, Be Unafraid, made in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services, approaches the controversial topic of US immigration by asking people who disagree to come together and share their perspectives with one another.

For two days in Nashville, the photographer invited both immigrants and US citizens to share their fears surrounding the debate. "It's about asking the public to have a face-to-face dialogue with those we disagree with." Cowart tells BuzzFeed News. "We’re all more kind to each other face-to-face than we are in a Facebook comment. We need to face our fears and the intimidation of human interaction — walls break down when we engage personally with one another."

Despite their differences, many of Cowart's subjects found common ground, especially in sharing their mutual love for America as a country. Cowart says, "In this day and age, it’s rare that anyone changes their minds and if I’m being honest, I didn’t expect any changed opinions, but thankfully I was wrong. It was beautiful."

These pictures show what happens when people with different perspectives come together with an open mind and a willingness to listen.

Judith is a travel agent and grandmother. She sees the topic of refugees as a "mixed bag" of worries, noting that undocumented workers take restaurant and construction jobs from tax-paying citizens, yet are often exploited.
Jeremy Cowart

Judith is a travel agent and grandmother. She sees the topic of refugees as a "mixed bag" of worries, noting that undocumented workers take restaurant and construction jobs from tax-paying citizens, yet are often exploited.

Tom, whose ancestors landed on Ellis Island, meets Senzela from Kabul, who fears that people whose families also came to America seeking safety and opportunity will discriminate against hers.
Jeremy Cowart

Tom, whose ancestors landed on Ellis Island, meets Senzela from Kabul, who fears that people whose families also came to America seeking safety and opportunity will discriminate against hers.

Mohammad-Shukri learned English from Saved by the Bell and in classes. He is most afraid that the prejudice and fear that exist today around refugees will become our new normal.
Jeremy Cowart

Mohammad-Shukri learned English from Saved by the Bell and in classes. He is most afraid that the prejudice and fear that exist today around refugees will become our new normal.

Franco and Mohammad-Shukri talk about their families, some of whom still live in dangerous conditions in Africa.
Jeremy Cowart

Franco and Mohammad-Shukri talk about their families, some of whom still live in dangerous conditions in Africa.

A Christian and retired engineer, Prabir fears that America is turning toward corruption and racism, the very reasons he left his beloved India.
Jeremy Cowart

A Christian and retired engineer, Prabir fears that America is turning toward corruption and racism, the very reasons he left his beloved India.

Talking to James, Rocio shares her fear of being deported to Mexico and separated from her husband and two children despite living here for 17 years and being a Permanent Resident.
Jeremy Cowart

Talking to James, Rocio shares her fear of being deported to Mexico and separated from her husband and two children despite living here for 17 years and being a Permanent Resident.

Zozan and her family fled to Turkey on foot to escape the bombings in her village in Iraq. In the US for over two decades now, this wedding planner’s fear is that people will not look beyond her headscarf to see a grateful woman, mother, and wife.
Jeremy Cowart

Zozan and her family fled to Turkey on foot to escape the bombings in her village in Iraq. In the US for over two decades now, this wedding planner’s fear is that people will not look beyond her headscarf to see a grateful woman, mother, and wife.

Sandra worries about crime and that people who leave their homelands for the US may encounter the same dangers here they are trying to escape. Sandra misses the "old days" of knowing her neighbors’ backgrounds, families, hopes, and dreams. These are the things she would ask about if she met a refugee.
Jeremy Cowart

Sandra worries about crime and that people who leave their homelands for the US may encounter the same dangers here they are trying to escape. Sandra misses the "old days" of knowing her neighbors’ backgrounds, families, hopes, and dreams. These are the things she would ask about if she met a refugee.

Born in a refugee camp in Nepal, Tika lived there for 18 years. Green cards in hand, his family today sees the US as safe and welcoming. He dreams of starting a photography business and building a house.
Jeremy Cowart

Born in a refugee camp in Nepal, Tika lived there for 18 years. Green cards in hand, his family today sees the US as safe and welcoming. He dreams of starting a photography business and building a house.

When a rocket leveled their home in Kabul, Senzela and her family lived in a tent and a makeshift home box. She fears that people whose ancestors also came seeking safety and opportunity will continue to discriminate against them.
Jeremy Cowart

When a rocket leveled their home in Kabul, Senzela and her family lived in a tent and a makeshift home box. She fears that people whose ancestors also came seeking safety and opportunity will continue to discriminate against them.

To see more of Jeremy Cowart's work, visit jeremycowart.com.


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