Times Square billboard calls out migrant deaths, slams border wall

“We created this ad with the intention of showing people that Trump’s demands aren’t only about a wall, they’re about people’s lives."
United We Dream's ad campaign titled "No More Money for ICE and CBP" located in Times Square.
United We Dream's ad campaign titled "No More Money for ICE and CBP" located in Times Square.Courtesy United We Dream

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By Nicole Acevedo

Immigrant rights activists from the youth-led organization United We Dream launched an ambitious ad campaign to fight back against President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, calling attention to the deaths of at least three migrants who died while in U.S. custody.

The centerpiece of the ad campaign, “No More Money for ICE and CBP” is located in New York City’s iconic Times Square area on busy 43rd Street in the Theater District. The billboard will be there until the end of January, according to a press release.

The billboard shows a slide show of the faces of Roxsana Hernández, Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, Claudia Patricia Gómez González and Rosa Maria Hernández. Three of the four died while they were in immigration custody. It also shows the amount in billions that the administration is demanding for the border wall.

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Roxsana Hernandez, 33, was a trans woman from Honduras who died in a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico back in May from what appeared to be cardiac arrest while she was in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Six months later, an independent autopsy report found that she suffered “physical abuse” before her death.

Gómez González, 19, was shot and killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent back in May near the Mexican border in Rio Bravo, Texas, about 10 miles south of Laredo. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees border patrol, released two different statements with slightly different accounts regarding what led to the young Guatemalan woman’s death.

The most recent of these cases is Caal Maquin’s death, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 8, while she was in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody. The Department of Homeland Security said on a detailed timeline that she appeared to have died from "sepsis shock.” Autopsy results have not been released.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been facing major scrutiny for waiting five days to publicly acknowledge the girl’s death.

Rosa Maria Hernandez, 10, was placed in deportation proceedings back in Oct. 2017 right after undergoing surgery; the girl has cerebral palsy and had been living in the U.S. since she was 3 months old, according to United We Dream. She was released a month later.

The ACLU and United We Dream stated that children like Hernandez, “who could be citizens if Congress passed the Dream Act,” are oftentimes “targeted for deportation.”

“We created this ad with the intention of showing people that Trump’s demands aren’t only about a wall, they’re about people’s lives," said Sanaa Abrar, United We Dream advocacy director, in a statement. "Giving the deportation agencies of ICE and CBP more money will mean more people detained, more families separated and more deaths.”

On the busiest days, as many as 425,000 pedestrians walk by the heart of Times Square every day. Millions are expected to visit NYC's touristic hub during the Christmas holidays.

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