America will not survive without immigrants. Whether documented or not, immigrants are valuable, beautiful, and necessary. Why President-elect Donald Trump and his racist cabinet don't understand that is beyond us.
Not only do they already contribute billions of dollars to the economy, but favorable immigration reform could add even more revenue to our country. Aside from money, immigrants actually help communities grow and ease racial tensions, which actually decreases crime rates.
However, more importantly, immigrants add beauty to our country. They give us a rich culture full of life, laughter, and love. That is undeniable. Here's 19 works of art that looks at undocumented immigrants in this country for what they are: beautiful.
Artist Maria De Los Angeles
According to her website, Maria De Los Angeles is a New York-based artist whose work focuses on issues of migration, identity, and displacement, among other things.
Poet Sonia Guiñansaca
Poet Sonia Guiñansaca describes as herself as a migrant, queer, poet, activist, speker and educator. According to her website, in 2008 she joined the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC) the first and only undocumented youth led organization in NY where she currently serves as a Board Member.
Artist Eduardo Juárez Jr.
Eduardo Juárez Jr. doesn't just consider himself an artist, but rather a narrator.
"I like to think of myself as a story teller and or someone that likes to express their ideas using visuals; this also includes helping other’s express their ideas," he wrote on his bio.
Poet Praise Odigie
Poet, filmmaker, and activist, Praise Odigie uses her creative work to bring social justice in her home country of Nigeria.
Artist Jose Ortiz
Jose Ortiz titles the painting above as the "Revelation of an Undocumented Immigrant." He writes that the painting shows him "sitting on a chair getting ready to write about the things I'll never say."
Ortiz writes on the site Things I'll Never Say that he used to live in fear and in the shadows.
"The heart in the middle of my chest indicates the love I have received from my family and community. In my most difficult moments, what kept me going in life was my love for my community. My hope is for you to look at my artwork and see that I have a story to share. I want people to see my work and feel hope, success and much more."
Poet Yosimar Reyes
"I'm a performance artist and do spoken word," undocumented immigrant poet Yosimar Reyes told Westworld. "Most of what I write focuses on intersections of migration and sexuality. Most of my poems deal with those themes."
Artist Julio Salgado
According to her website, artist Julio Salgado is the co-founder of DreamersAdrift.com:
"His status as an undocumented, queer activist has fueled the contents of his visual art, which depict key individuals and moments of the DREAM Act and migrant rights movement. Undocumented students and allies across the country have used Salgado’s artwork to call attention to the youth-led movement."
Artist Jose Alvarez
Artist Jose Alvarez was detained in Krome Detention Center in Miami for identity theft for two months in 2012. During this time he created a series of portraits of his fellow immigrant detainees using ballpoint pens and whatever paper he could find. The exhibition titled "Krome" features their portraits, which captures more than just their face. They capture their story.
Anthropologist Jason De León
2016 Margaret Mead Award winner Jason De León (and director of the Undocumented Migration Project) interviewed migrants hoping to get into the United States near border south of Tucson. While on the American side of the border De León recovered various articles that these migrants left behind, including backpacks in which they carried clean clothes, the New York Times reports.
These items can be seen at the University of Michigan. De León told the New York Times: "I realized that you have this highly politicized social process that’s incredibly clandestine and misunderstood. I just want the public to have a better understanding of what it actually looks like."
Artist David Freeman
David Freeman is an artist from McAllen, Texas who explores immigration, border issues and the war on drugs. In 2016 he created piñatas that he designed as effigies of border patrol agents. The candy inside is an added bonus.
This undocumented artist simply goes by the name Rubén. She is a native of Guerrero who has crossed the border twice in the past ten years. According to his website, the last time she crossed the border was four years ago.
Although she might not be considered an artist by certain standards, her project titled From Rubén, To Trump is a masterpiece: Portraits of flowers.
"Flowers express our vulnerability," Rubén told Fusion. "We send them for love, for funerals. They’ve become a way to express feelings that we sometimes can’t really explain with words. I got the idea for the project after reading about the 1974 military coup in Portugal, where carnations became a symbol of peaceful resistance as people placed them on soldiers and in gun barrels."
Click here to see this extraordinary artwork featuring her flower arrangements.
Photographer Miriam Gonzalez
Miriam Gonzalez writes of this image in Things I'll Never Say:
"It's my self portrait, representing the American flag without its color. Although I grew up in New York for practically my whole life, I'm not considered American enough because I lack a piece of paper. I am no longer afraid of saying I'm undocumented. I know that I’m not the only one. I am a voice who speaks for others who are not ready to speak out. I am the voice who joins others like me in order to be heard and make a change. I will make a change with my photographs. This is how I feel; I feel "American.'"
Artist Eleazar Velazquez
"In my work, I deconstruct the American dream, for an Undocumented Child in search of his identity," artist Eleazar Velazquez said about her painting above.
"I engage the subject in a kneeling position, a symbol of being afraid to show his identity. In the artwork America is split off from Mexico to represent the borderlands of two cultures. The color red represents the struggles to identity. I am undocumented, it is my identity. In the drawing the main theme is a journey to find an identity. When people see my piece I want them to relate to the struggle of finding an identity. The identity in the piece is, I am Mexican the origin, Undocumented the circumstance, American the future."
Digital artist Jonathan Hernández
"This piece depicts how I feel around my friends, my peers and society," Jonathan Hernández writes in Things I'll Never Say. "The tape on my mouth represents the countless times I have had to keep my mouth shut or lie about my citizenship status. The tear represents the pain and guilt I feel when doing so, and the overall helplessness I feel from time to time."
Artist Michelle Angela Ortiz
Poet Christy Namee Eriksen
Poet Christy Namee Eriksen is a student of social justice and conflict studies. She is mentored by community organizers and spoken word poets. On her website, Christy said she strives to use art and creativity as tools for social activism and community building.
Poet Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
Journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and media entrepreneur Jose Antonio Vargas openly came out about his undocumented status in a Washington Post article in 2011. He has been an immigration activist ever since.
Artist and writer Alberto Ledesma
UC Berkeley graduate Alberto Ledesma first came to the United States with his family as an undocumented child. Now as a U.S. citizen, Ledesma's work consists of immigration discourse and writings about life in America. "His Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer" and his "Undocumented Alphabet" are a series of visual vignettes.