In light of the ongoing border crisis, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) put up more than a dozen chain-link cages in the city (with dolls that represent children) as caucus-goers in Iowa choose their Democratic candidate. The “children” are covered with mylar blankets and the cages include a #DontLookAway sign along with an actual recording from a child who was kept in detention.
“We’re doing this as the administration breaks records in detention by keeping up to 52,000 people jailed at once and has sent back more than 60,000 people to Mexico to await their asylum hearings in conditions that are utterly depraved, as we have been documenting for months,” RAICES wrote in a statement on their site. “We’re doing this as the Trump administration has quadrupled workplace raids that target people holding a job and paying taxes in this country.”
The Iowa caucus is significant as the winner of the Iowa caucuses on the Democratic side has often gone on to become the Democratic nominee. The Iowa population is 90 percent white and the leading Democratic presidential hopefuls are white (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden) so this installation is meant as a reminder of the importance of the current border crisis.
“We’re doing this because very few political leaders are laser-focused on immigration. The horror at our border still goes ignored far too often, absent from the presidential debates and political statements,” RAICES wrote.
They’re asking for the American public to support a moratorium on deportations in conjunction with Migrant Justice Platform, a collection of policies developed by dozens of grassroots organizations. Additional policies include an end to immigrant detention, citizenship for all 11 million undocumented people in the country, demilitarization of the border, the dismantling of ICE and CBP, and the formation of truth/reconciliation committees examining the human rights abuses committed against immigrants by previous administrations.
The children playing in the audio were affected by the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” family separation policy which affected more than 2,500 children. Though President Trump later rescinded the policy, many families remain separated as a result of the “Remain in Mexico” policy leading some families to send their children unaccompanied to stay in the U.S.
“Yes, it’s uncomfortable,” Erika Andiola, the chief advocacy officer for RAICES told Newsweek. “But, at the end of the day, this is the reality of what the country is doing to a lot of children and a lot of people of all ages at the border and in immigration detention centers across the country.”