As Philip Bump detailed for The Washington Post:
Photographer Paul Ratje was standing in the Rio Grande when he captured a remarkable image: a Border Patrol agent mounted on horseback, grabbing the shirt of a migrant unlucky enough to be within reach. Every detail — the apparent anger on the face of the officer, the food in the migrant’s hand, the isolation of the location — is evocative and revealing. Nor is it possible to ignore the historical echoes suggested by a White officer of the law apprehending a fleeing Black man.
It’s useful to remember the context for Ratje’s photo. This was an apparently isolated encounter, one that soon resolved with those seeking to enter the country and return to or arrive at the camp able to do so. Many of them will probably or have already made asylum claims — an internationally recognized process that usually doesn’t result in success for claimants but one that has allowed thousands of migrants to remain in the United States legally. The man photographed appears to have already come into the country, only to return with food for a group of people or for sale.
But it’s impossible not to see the image as capturing an important moment from a volatile, politically fraught situation.