Julio Salgado is one of five undocumented artists who have joined their talent to create postcards that anyone can fill with a message of hope for the thousands of immigrants who are in custody in the detention centers of the Migration and Customs Service (ICE ) from United States.

"We want these cards to be a message of solidarity for immigrants who are in detention centers, those who should not exist in the first place because there are horrific human rights abuses and violations, ”says Julio Salgado, a graphic illustrator whose artistic works are characterized by his political and social justice message.

“When they receive them, we want them to feel that there is a light at the end of the road,” he says.

The artist Julio Salgado designs a card for immigrants in custody of the Migration and Customs Service (ICE). (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

36 years old, Julio is covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). “I came with my family from Ensenada, Mexico when I was 11 years old. We did not come to stay, but my sister got sick and had to have a kidney transplant. My mom donated one of his own. The doctors advised us to stay in the country. That was how we stayed. The visa expired, ”he says.

Of the five artists who collaborate in the Flores Adentro (Flowers on the Inside) project to send cards, Julio is the only one who lives in Los Angeles.

“The project of sending cards with illustrations made by artists who are or were undocumented came from Casa Arcoiris, a shelter for immigrant members of the LGBT community in Tijuana,” he explains.

“I work for the Center for Cultural Empowerment (The Center for Cultural Power, formerly Culture Strike), and they decided to launch a web portal together with Casa Arcoiris and the Forward Together organization to undertake the Flores Adentro project,” says Julio.

The artist Julio Salgado is happy to create a card to lift the spirit of immigrants in ICE custody. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

The Cultural Empowerment Center supports artists of color and the LGBT community. It is headquartered in Oakland, California.

The Flores Adentro portal, which is in English and Spanish, contains five cards each designed by an undocumented artist. “We wanted them to be created by people who have gone through the experience of being undocumented and who know what it feels like,” says Julio.

The way it will work is that people enter the portal, select their postcard, write a message and sign it online. Casa Arcoiris will print them and send the immigrants in custody in detention centers throughout the United States.

Julio included in the card he created, iris flowers because they symbolize hope and that is precisely what a detainee most needs. "Through these cards it is as if we were sending flowers," he says.

The artists participating in the project are Emulsify, Brian Herrera, Karla Daniela Rosas, Julio Salgado and María Hu Wu. They live in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Even one of the artists experienced in their own flesh immigration detention.

Pablo Vivas says he would have been very happy to receive a card when he was in immigration detention in El Paso. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

Pablo Vivas, a 27-year-old Mexican undocumented youth who spent a month in a detention center in El Paso when he applied for political asylum in 2013, says that when in immigration custody, even when surrounded by many people, they feel very alone.

“In those places, what they try is to break you psychologically. You can't talk much with your family outside because phone calls are very expensive. Personally, I had come to the United States at age 4, 5, and I returned to Mexico at age 19 or 20 when my mother died of cancer and my father had depression. So going back to the United States and requesting asylum was my decision, I didn't want to call my father since the arrest and worry him. That lack of family communication made me feel very alone, ”he says.

Therefore, he says that if he had received a solidarity card during his detention, it would have been a pleasure.

The Flores Adentro project seeks to inspire hope, compassion and connection.

"We want to take motivational messages to our colleagues who are human beings who go through the darkest moments of their lives," he says Favianna Rodríguez, president of the Cultural Empowerment Center.

“It is through art and creative resistance that we hope to raise awareness about what is happening inside prisons, and show that immigrants are human and deserve better. We want to show the world and those inside, that the walls don't divide us, ”he says.

DACA artist Julio Salgado shows the process he carried out to make his card. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

Those interested in supporting this campaign have until October 18 to write and sign a card for a detained immigrant. They can do it when visiting: www.flowersontheinside.org You can also download one at: Download Postcards here

“At the moment, 500 cards have been signed since the project was launched. 50% of the people who have sent them, have stated that they want to maintain a connection with the immigrants to whom they have sent a message ”, external Julio.

And he adds that people's response shows that the community supports detained immigrants. "We also invite you to make donations to help them have money to make a call to their relatives," he notes.

Julio says that he decided to put his artistic talent in this card project because any of those detained immigrants could be his father, his mother, his sister or himself. "I would not like to be forgotten if I was in ICE detention," he says.

And he says that while now he is protected by DACA, he does not know for how long.

So he urges the Hispanic community to join this postcard campaign and write in Spanish because most of the detainees are Hispanic. “Many cards have been written with messages in English, and we will have to translate them, but it is very important that immigrants in detention can read their messages in Spanish,” he observes.


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