RAICES Launches "Abolish ICE Box" Campaign at SXSW

Nonprofit decries detention conditions with -10° pod

Photo by Jana Birchum

Among the curious brutalities of the border in MAGAmerica is the hielera – “icebox.” Large dark concrete rooms kept at freezing temperatures, the hieleras are the first stop on U.S. soil for migrants crossing over, given a Mylar blanket to shield themselves for days or longer as they begin life in detention.

Photo by Jana Birchum

RAICES, Texas’ largest legal aid group serving migrants, launched at SXSW today its campaign calling on U.S. authorities to “abolish the ICE box” by recreating a hielera near Republic Square. Kept at -10 degrees F, the converted storage pod is “a snapshot of our immigration system, a look into the modern-day detention centers that the country is operating across the southern border, with little transparency or accountability," said Erika Andiola, Chief of Advocacy at RAICES.

Within the box, an audio-visual presentation features a RAICES client recounting her time in the hieleras. According to RAICES, “We have clients today ... whose children are sick because of the time they spent in the cold room. Multiple people have died or been hospitalized after staying in hieleras.” Outside, the exhibit features a mural, painted by the community and bearing the installation’s message: “Asylum is a human right.” It’s surrounded by a chain-link fence upon which visitors can leave a message, written on a bandana.

”I believe that migration is beautiful. Our people have been doing it for generations, long before we erected invisible borders,” said artist Jerry Silguero. His co-creator of the exhibit, Yocelyn Riojas, said “As an artist, my work seeks to equip those fighting the deportation machine with imagery as powerful as the testimonies we hear.”

The hielera, at 308 Guadalupe, will be open to visitors today (Mar. 8) 12-6pm and Saturday 11am-2pm, and will also be open those same times next Friday and Saturday, Mar. 15-16.

You can find the audio that plays inside the installation in the video below.

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement, SXSW 2019, RAICES

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