From the Field

UndocuNation Denver, An Artist’s Perspective

Imagine 2050 Staff • Feb 18, 2013

By Julio Salgado

When you grow up as a brown, queer, undocumented boy, finding the time to figure out how culture affects those intersectionalities is just not on the top of your to-do list. But oh how it could have helped. The constant anti-migrant images spread throughout mainstream media developed an unexplainable fear in me. According to that anti-migrant culture, I didn’t belong in this country. I was a criminal. Never mind the fact that my parents left everything and everyone they loved and courageously moved us up north in order to save their child’s life. The media was never going to tell that story. So, I decided to tell my own story. Through art. 

You see, art truly has the power to change minds. While reading policy and learning what the anti-migrant folks are writing about nowadays is very important, a photograph, a song or a poster can convey a message much faster. And when someone is about to be deported, moving fast to stop that deportation is what we’re aiming for.

That need for quick action (and moreso quick results) inspired a group of artists – both undocumented and documented – to collaborate with organizations like CultureStrike and Center for New Community in hopes of creating a cultural approach to fighting anti-migrant sentiments. Thus, UndocuNation was born.

Much like a lot of the artwork that we do, UndocuNation is an idea. It’s a space for artists of various immigration statuses to create intentional work that focuses on challenging the mainstream’s idea of the “immigration issue.” It’s important for UndocuNation organizers to be intentional in the creative process and include the artists, organizers and community members that have made it possible for everyone to come out of the undocumented closets.

As a community of artists, musicians, dreamers, and thinkers, we have brought UndocuNation to San Francisco, Charlotte, and Berkeley. On Saturday, February 23, we bring the movement to Denver. Colorado’s immigrant and undocumented communities are currently battling bills like SB 90, an anti-migrant measure that requires law enforcement to report anyone who is suspected of being undocumented to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

UndocuNation provides a counter-narrative to the constant clip of anti-immigrant and racial-profiling laws like SB 90 that are proliferating across the country. While DC heads will continue to milk the comprehensive immigration reform cow, we want to highlight what our local communities and artists are doing right now to defend and organize themselves from current anti-migrant policies.


UndocuNation Denver: A Night of Art, Activism, and Immigrant Rights will take place at Mercury Café (2199 California St.) on Saturday February 23, 2013. Doors open at 6pm; show begins at 7pm. For more details, visit the UndocuNation Facebook page. 

On February 22, 2013, as a prelude to the showcase, artists and local activists will offer workshops on art and activism. The workshops will also take place at Mercury Café

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