Things That Matter

RAÍCES Installed ‘Kids In Cages’ Across Iowa To Make A Point About What The Candidates Aren’t Talking About

Yesterday, voters across Iowa took to the polls to cast their ballot in the Democratic caucuses. And yes, voters also turned out for the less than fair Republican caucuses, in which Trump is basically all but guaranteed to win thanks to a largely rigged primary system that benefits the incumbent.

The results have been, well, chaotic to say the least. It’s the day after and, at least on the Democratic side, we still don’t have a clear answer on who actually walked away the winner. But what we do have is increased attention on Trump’s disastrous and inhumane immigration policies, thanks to an installation by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) Texas, an immigrant rights group.

#DontLookAway: is an exhibit installed by RAICES to call attention to the on-going humanitarian crisis caused by Trump’s immigration policies.

On Monday, just as the caucuses were beginning to start, and voters started making their way to choose their Democratic candidate for president, RAICES installed powerful images across Iowa. Chain-link cages were erected in Des Moines, outside caucus sites, media offices, and other prominent places like city hall. The cages contain fake children inside covered in Mylar blankets, symbolizing the children detained along the border and in detention centers across the country.

Perhaps most powerful: each cage also includes a recording from an actual child who has been kept in detention.

In a press release, Erika Andiola, Chief Advocacy Officer for RAICES said, “The horrors at our border and throughout our immigration system are too often ignored by the public and politicians. We’re asking people in Iowa and across the country: Don’t look away from the terrors enacted in your name. Don’t look away from the kids in cages, the asylum-seekers turned back at our border, the deportation raids destroying communities across the country. This anti-immigrant crackdown has to end.”

RAICES also held a press conference to talk about the actions they were taking on behalf of detained children.

The group is hoping its installation can refocus attention on immigration, given the lack of consideration the issue has received in the presidential race recently.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Andiola said, “One of the things that has been really troubling for us is seeing that immigration has not even been an issue in the last two [Democratic] debates.”

In an email to Mitú, Andiola said: “We’re doing this as the administration has broken records in immigration detention by keeping up to 55,000 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. We’re doing this as the Trump administration has quadrupled workplace raids that target people holding a job and paying taxes in this country.”

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 Iowa caucus is significant as the winner of the Iowa caucuses on the Democratic side has often gone on to become the Democratic nominee.

Credit: RAICES

Yes, the population of Iowa is not representative of all of the Unites States. Its population is 90%, yes 90%, white. But it holds an outsized influence over the US nomination process for president as it holds the very first primary/caucus in the nation.

Candidates who do well in Iowa often build the momentum they need to carry themselves through the primary process and emerge as the candidate for the general election come November.

Their exhibition in Iowa isn’t the first to call attention to the cages – and likely won’t be the last.

These cages are similar to the ones we helped install in New York City over the summer, which went viral as thousands of people took photos of the cages and posted them online, even as police eventually dismantled the cages and hauled them off. We’re replicating the action in Des Moines at the height of the most anticipated caucus in modern history.

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