The “Monster of Immigration”

On September 5, the Trump Administration announced it would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA has provided temporary relief from deportation, as well as work authorization, to more than 800,000 young immigrants who came to the United States as children. The ripple effects on immigrants across the nation, including those here in our own community, include heightened fear, increased isolation, and withdrawal from daily life, keeping children from school and parents from work.

Motivated by a deep desire to speak up and explain to our community what it means to be an immigrant in this xenophobic climate, English Language Learners (ELLs) students seized the opportunity to create an art project for this year’s Paseo Project 2017 event.  Students  explored the notion of “The Monster of Immigration”.  The students began their study by having an in-depth conversation about what immigration means to them. Using the metaphor of a “monster”, students answered questions put forth by the Paseo Project’s STEAM Monster Design Challenge: What does it look like? Where does it live? How does it grow? What do you want to tell it? How does it lose its power?  Themes of  ignorance, distrust, inequality, economic uncertainty, and discrimination arose. They then  began to work on solutions to these issues.  

Our immigrant students envisioned the “monster” as a wall holding back a huge fire breathing dragon, held by the ignorance, hate, racism, and ignorance of humanity. And, yet, they saw that within the fire, is a transformative power, an ability to overcome the horrors of injustice and inequality. The fire turns to a golden aura and orange butterflies emerge from the fire to symbolize this potential evolution. Each scale is a tiny piece of fabric that they sewed on, the fire flames are each  carefully hand-cut, the butterflies were hand knitted or made paper and painted, and the “wall” was constructed from old slats from blinds. The end result of their process is a beautiful tapestry that symbolizes the fears and negative implications of immigration and the beauty of solutions that can develop with increased education and an open mind.  

The tapestry will be displayed along the John Dunn shop walkway, between Amina’s Children’s Boutique and Leatherwerks. There will be an open comment book for members of the community to express their feelings around immigration or to communicate any messages they would like our immigrant students to read.

The ELL students at TECC- UNM Taos are learning not only English, but also that civic engagement is vital to their education and success in life. The Federal legislation that governs and funds Adult Education to offer ELL classes is now called Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education (IELCE), and requires that all ELL participate in gaining skills for meaningful participation in their communities. The “Monster of Immigration” tapestry, along with it’s display at Paseo, is one way in which members of our immigrant students are sharing their perspectives and voices with the larger Taos community. Art is one medium that can overcome cultural and language barriers. TECC-UNM Taos plans to find a permanent display for the tapestry or stop by 115 Civic Plaza Dr to view it at the school.

Students Names: Alejandro Cordova, Laura Jiménez, María Elsa Caraveo, Patricia Romo, María Rodríguez, José Garduño, Nancy Garduno, Maria Elena Ortega, Rosa Martinez, Gabriella Morales, Angela Morales, Rosita Martinez, Laura Dominguez, Karla Guerrero, Alicia Rivera, María Castillo, Marcella Cisneros, Yosael Mejía and John Cordova.

TECC Instructors: Edie Buchanan, Esther Tipton and Montserrat Oyanedel-Tolmo.