Powerful #abolishICE box art show protests inhumane immigrant conditions


An art project unveiled in the technology festival South by South West (SXSW) makes an important point about American detention centres.

The project, launched by Texas' largest legal aid group, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), is based on the infamous iceboxes, called 'las hieleras' in Spanish.

These large, concrete rooms are kept in freezing temperatures and they are the first port of call for migrants travelling across the border from Mexico to the US.

According to reports, women and children would spend days in such conditions, often in foil blankets, no mattresses and minimal to no medical aid.

The campaign calls on the American government to "abolish the ICE box" and the art installation recreates a hielera near Republic Square.

It is a small, eight-by-20 feet pod kept at -10 degrees, and when people go inside, they can listen to and watch a clip of a RAICES client talking about her experience in a hieleras. Chief of Advocacy at RAICES, Erika Andiola said the project depicts a:

snapshot of our immigration system, a look into the modern-day detention centres that the country is operating across the southern border, with little transparency or accountability.

We've re-created a hielera because it's one of the first experiences migrants have when  they reach US soil.

Most of us know nothing about the degrading conditions into which our government forces people when they arrive in this country. 

Every migrant is held in the hieleras - and that means almost all migrants who cross the border - speaks out against the inhumane conditions they face: intense cold, little or no natural lighting, few provisions but a Mylar blanket.

The outside of the icebox features "a mural, painted by the community and bearing the installation's message," which is as follows:

Asylum is a human right.

The entire installation is surrounded by a chain link fence and visitors can leave a message by writing on a bandanna.

Artist Jerry Silguero said of his creation:

I believe that migration is beautiful. Our people have been doing it for generations, long before we erected invisible borders.

The audio-visual presentation that plays inside the installation can be seen below:

H/T Austin Chronicle

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