An immigrant rights advocacy group on Monday installed chain-link cages at a dozen locations throughout Des Moines, Iowa with the goal of ensuring that Democratic voters are greeted with a reminder of President Donald Trump’s mass detention of migrant children—and the enormous stakes of the 2020 elections.
“Today caucus-goers in Iowa woke up to more than a dozen kids in cages all over the city of Des Moines. We came to remind people that this remains a reality and that the issue cannot be pushed under the rug.”
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Each cage set up by RAICES, a non-profit immigrant advocacy organization, contains doll children covered by the same mylar blankets used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention facilities across the nation. The cages also play on a loop an actual audio recording from 2018 of migrant children sobbing after being separated from their parents by the Trump administration.
“The horrors at our border and throughout our immigration system are too often ignored by the public and politicians,” Erika Andiola, chief advocacy officer for RAICES, said in a statement. “We’re asking people in Iowa and across the country: Don’t look away from the terrors enacted in your name. Don’t look away from the kids in cages, the asylum-seekers turned back at our border, the deportation raids destroying communities across the country.”
“This anti-immigrant crackdown has to end,” said Andiola.
The Associated Press reported last November that the United States held a record 69,550 migrant children in detention in 2019. RAICES wrote in a series of tweets Monday morning that the crisis of children being locked in cages “cannot be pushed under the rug.”
“This is a humanitarian crisis,” the group said. “That’s why we’re in Iowa today. Because we know how to create a sane, rational immigration system that gives justice to those who have suffered its enforcement. That means halting all deportations, decriminalizing immigration, ending detention, and demilitarizing our border.”
The displays in Iowa came after the Super Bowl halftime show in Miami Sunday night, headlined by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, featured a thinly veiled condemnation of Trump’s mass detention of children.
“Opening her mother’s song ‘Let’s Get Loud,’ [Lopez’s daughter] Emme Maribel Muñiz belted the track from center stage, but one piece of the performance in particular caught the audience’s eye,” wrote Esquire‘s Justin Kirkland. “Muñiz and a handful of other children sat inside what appeared to be rounded off, illuminated cages.”