One of the largest immigrant rights groups in the country decided to take the Iowa caucus attendees by surprise and say “Don’t Look Away” to one of the saddest realities in the country and one that continues today.
Through a public space intervention, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) set up chain cages to recall the policy of family separation instituted by the administration since its first year in the White House, which confined thousands of children to makeshift prisons once they were separated from their parents when they crossed the border without documents.
“Today caucus-goers in Iowa woke up to more than a dozen kids in cages all over the city of Des Moines,” said the organization on social networks. “We came to remind people that this remains a reality and that the issue cannot be pushed under the rug.”
Videos published by RAICES show each cage has a child’s doll covered by the Mylar blankets used by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and which have been taken around the world through photographs.
As you approach the cages, you can hear the audio of a child crying as they are separated from their parents.
“The horrors at our border and throughout our immigration system are too often ignored by the public and politicians,” Erika Andiola, chief advocacy officer for RAICES, said in a statement. “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,” said Andiola.
According to the Migrant Justice Platform, “At the height of the detention crisis, more than 55,000 immigrants were jailed in prisons and camps across this country — kids in cages, families, trans women, pregnant mothers, and anyone else who has been caught by the immigration dragnet at our border.”
However, between the Democratic primary and an impeachment, one of the country’s worst humanitarian episodes seemed to take a back seat.
“It’s important for caucus-goers and voters to not forget that this is one of the biggest crises in America,” Andiola said in an interview with Newsweek. “That Trump’s biggest priority has been to attack the immigrant community and to use every and any tactic that he has to dehumanize and treat us in a way that will allow his… agenda to move forward.”
“We’re not telling people who to vote for,” she added. “We are telling people and voters that this is still an issue.