Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Illegal? No Human Being is Illegal
Octavio Gomez
Central American Refugee Committees (CRECEN); Central American Refugee Centers (CARECEN); Central American Refugee National Network (CARNET)
Offset, circa 1989
Los Angeles, California

This week’s featured poster, created by Octavio Gomez in 1989, and issued by Central American Refugee Committees (CRECEN), Central American Refugee Centers (CARECEN), and the Central American Refugee National Network (CARNET), advocates the protection of Salvadoran refugees, demanding a change in policy that would end deportations and allow refugees to work legally in the United States. The poster also acknowledges the difficult realities immigrants face due to social and economic conditions in their countries of origin.
This poster is especially pertinent now, as the United States has seen an influx of nearly 52,000 unaccompanied children and underage youths cross the U.S. border since October- with over 75% making their journey from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. In July of this year, tensions rose in Murrieta, California, where anti-immigrant protestors blocked U.S. Homeland Security Department buses filled with immigrant children being transported to a processing facility in the area.
While demonstrations from both sides of the immigration issue have swept the nation in the past weeks, many ignore deeper roots of the issue, which include the dangerous social and economic conditions in these Central American countries. Honduras, for example, has the highest murder rate of any country, with a rate of 90 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants. According to the National Violence Observatory, more than half of those murdered in Central America are under the age of 30. In a region controlled by drug traffickers and criminal gangs, corruption, and instability - violence threatens the lives of Central American youth, who seek asylum in the U.S. as refugees.
The poster’s phrase “No Human Being is Illegal” is attributed to Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, who explained, “You shall know that no one is illegal. It is a contradiction in itself. People can be beautiful or even more beautiful. They may be just or unjust. But illegal? How can someone be illegal?” This poster attempts to shed light on the Central American refugees by framing the situation neither as a political or partisan issue but as one concerning human rights.

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