Since early 2016, Alejandro and I - as the collaborative Díaz Lewis - have been creating pillows from clothing donated by undocumented immigrants and their allies—as part of an art project entitled 34,000 Pillows. We developed the project in response to the “detention bed quota.” Under this law, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detains a minimum average of 34,000 immigrants daily in a network of more than 250 detention centers (mostly for-profit), at a cost of over $2 billion per year.
The purpose of the quota is to maximize corporate profits. Decisions regarding the detentions are budgetary, not judicial. As a result, thousands of asylum seekers are being detained without bond. The mandate targets innocent lives, while promoting the false narrative that immigration is a criminal act that demands incarceration.
In response, we created 34,000 Pillows to resist the little known “detention quota” by raising money for non-profits which support immigrants.
The idea is to create a pillow for each bed and to continue until the “bed mandate” is eliminated—or until we reach the creation of 34,000 pillows. We are selling each handcrafted pillow for a donation of $159 — the government’s daily cost for detaining an immigrant. Thus far, we have raised over $35,000 through our pillow sales and proceeds have benefited non-profit organizations that provide alternatives to detention and restore dignity to detainees.
Due to the recent threat of the rescission of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), we are turning our fundraising focus towards the needs of young immigrants. 100% of the profits of select pillow sales will be contributed to a 34,000 DREAMers Scholarship to be awarded one California "DACAmented" Youth graduating from Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in Spring 2018 to put towards the costs of university. We will update the progress of the fund as it grows.
Camino Nuevo Charter Academy was founded in 2000 as part of a broader community-based initiative to address the severe socioeconomic and educational needs of residents in MacArthur Park, an underserved area of Los Angeles which lacks quality public schools. Now CNCA is a leading charter management organization operating seven high-achieving schools serving 3,500 students. Seventy percent of the Camino Nuevo Class of 2017 seniors (122 out of 175 students) gained admission to four-year universities and at least eighty percent enrolled in two and four-year colleges this fall.
Please join us in surrounding these young dreamers with support, hope, and sanctuary buy purchasing a pillow today. You may do so directly from our Díaz Lewis website.
Cara Megan Lewis
Alejandro Figueredo Díaz-Perera