Living in Sanctuary

Featuring: Cinthya Santos Briones

Presented By

Magnum Foundation

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Across the United States, communities of faith are offering physical refuge to undocumented immigrants. Sanctuary is the last alternative for keeping families together while they fight for a suspension of deportation.

In the absence of any significant governmental protection, immigrants are the ones at the front lines pursuing humanitarian strategies. Positioning those who take sanctuary as resistance leaders, Cinthya’s work centers the emotional, psychological, and political impact of taking sanctuary, while showing the poignant, quiet, and tender moments of establishing home, routine, and community–imagery rarely depicted in the mainstream representation of asylum seekers.


Cinthya Santos Briones’ interest in documentary photography emerged through the ethnographic work that she has done as an anthropologist in indigenous communities in Mexico, where she documented ceremonial and healing rituals, and processes of immigration to New York.

Since then, her work has been influenced by the struggle for human rights, focusing on issues of migration, gender, and identity. Cinthya is a graduate of the Visual Journalism and Documentary Practice Program at the International Center of Photography.

She received the Magnum Foundation Fellowship in 2016, the En Foco Fellowship in 2017, and was twice a Fellow of the Cultural Arts Fund in Mexico.

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The Magnum Foundation is a nonprofit organization that expands creativity and diversity in documentary photography, activating new audiences and ideas through the innovative use of images. Through grantmaking and mentorship, Magnum Foundation supports a global network of social justice and human rights-focused photographers and experiments with new models for storytelling.

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