64-70. Krome Detention Camp 1981-1982

The INS Krome Detention Camp is on the edge of the Everglades where its nondescript cinderblock buildings encroach on the river of grass. It was a forbidding place, awash in bladed concertina wire. It was once a Nike missile base, complete with underground silos.

The Haitians’ poor timing had them arrive on the heels of the mass Cuban exodus from the Port of Mariel, for whom the Cuban-American counterparts rolled out the red carpet. No welcoming committee greeted the Haitian boat people. I photographed them at Krome Camp for a year courtesy of Camp Director Cicilio Ruiz. He told me I was welcomed there because he had nothing to hide and that because I was not a journalist. He said journalists created problems to have something to report. The Miami Herald was suing for access while I was wandering around without restrictions. I was issued a No Escort Required badge, which Ruiz warned me to guard with my life for fear that journalists might go after it.