Shut Away is a window into a less-discussed immigration story in the United States. At present there are around fifty undocumented immigrants living in houses of worship after receiving deportation orders. It is the strategy of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to avoid raiding these “sensitive locations,” allowing them to provide their occupants with insulation from the possibility of deportation. This act of taking sanctuary comes at a significant cost as the individual does not leave the property upon entering. Comprised of still photographs, video portraits and oral histories, Shut Away seeks a more nuanced account of life in sanctuary beyond the common depiction of victimhood.
This paper will analyze the foundation, creation and context of the project. It begins with the historical and political background of the topic and the participants, then analyzes the methodology of the social and creative approach to the work The paper ends with a contextualization of the project within the documentary field and a reflection on the traditions of photography in which the work falls.