PHOTOS: New book documents 51 days of Cuban asylum seekers' journey to reach the U.S.

May 14, 2016 - After crossing into Brazil, Marta and Liset wait nervously for the signal to run to awaiting cars. (Photo: Lisette Poole)

“La paloma y la ley” (“The Dove and the Law”), follows two women, Marta and Liset, who left Cuba in May 2016 with no plan, just the name of a coyote — a human smuggler — scribbled on a piece of paper, and a dream to make it to the U.S. They hoped to arrive before the imminent end of “wet foot, dry foot,” a policy that fast-tracked Cubans to asylum and permanent residency.

Photojournalist Lisette Poole followed along on 51 days of this journey through 13 countries, across 10 borders and six days in the Darien Gap — a roadless stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama. She posed as a migrant and photographed in several formats including a smartphone, 35mm film and a GoPro. Poole has continued documenting Marta and Liset’s new lives in the United States in the three years since she made the journey with them.

Migration is one of the critical issues of our times, but the stories told are often hyperdramatized, oversimplified and rarely personal or intimate. “La paloma y la ley” upends these superficial narratives with one of the most comprehensive accounts of migration ever published. The book renders the journey in all its danger, complexity and humanity. (Red Hook Editions)

May 2, 2016 - Liset (left) and Marta with a street vendor in Medellín, Colombia, after going out and partying with local coyotes. (Photo: Lisette Poole)
May 23, 2016 - Marta and Liset, right, check their phones after arriving in Lima before dawn. (Photo: Lisette Poole)
May 24, 2016 - Marta in a van with other migrants from Haiti after being detained by Peruvian migration officials. They were released after the head officer took a liking to Liset and decided to let her go. (Photo: Lisette Poole)
June 6, 2016 - Liset and Marta prepare to board a boat at dawn to go from Necocli to Capuragna in Colombia, getting closer to the Panamanian border. (Photo: Lisette Poole)
June 9, 2016 - Footprints in the Darien Gap. (Photo: Lisette Poole)
June 12, 2016 - Marta and Liset resting in the river after a treacherous crossing. (Photo: Lisette Poole)
June 24, 2016 - Migrants from Cuba and Nepal, camped out in Nicaragua waiting for coyotes to move them to a safe location. (Photo: Lisette Poole)
June 27, 2016 - Muddy shoes after crossing the border into Honduras at night. (Photo: Lisette Poole)
July 3, 2016 - Liset arrives at Chicago O'Hare International Airport to be reunited with her boyfriend, Joey, who she met in Cuba back in January and paid for her trip to the United States. (Photo: Lisette Poole)
July 4, 2018 - Liset in Austin Texas, preparing for a shift at the strip club where she works. (Photo: Lisette Poole)
May 27, 2018 - Marta back in Cuba after receiving her green card in the U.S. She travels home to throw her grandson a birthday party. (Photo: Lisette Poole)
The map of their journey.

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