Soon after the Trump administration announced Tuesday morning that it was putting an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the team at Self-Help Graphics jumped into action.
DACA, as the federal program is more commonly known, provided some legal protections to young adults who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. As news of Trump’s decision rippled through communities around Los Angeles, Self-Help, a long-running nonprofit arts program in Boyle Heights, where many Mexican immigrants live, got to work distributing information.
Volunteers set up an impromptu printing stand in Self-Help’s parking lot and began silkscreening posters — in English and Spanish — that provide pointers on what to do if apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. They then prepared to distribute the posters to commuters stuck in traffic on East 1st Street and anyone getting on or off the Metro at the Pico/Aliso station, which is across the street from Self-Help.
“For us, the most important thing is maintaining a clear flow of accurate information,” said Self-Help’s program director, Joel García. “The more panic that spreads, the harder it is for the community to organize in response.
“And we want to do it in a way that uses art to communicate something in a clear way.”
The posters, created in collaboration with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, offer advice on dealing with ICE agents, such as: “Stay calm. Do not run. If possible, take photos, video and/or notes of the encounter.”
García says the poster is part of a series of “Know Your Rights” prints that Self-Help is working on. It did a similar poster in reaction to the enactment of a 2010 Arizona law that required law enforcement to identify immigrants in the country illegally or who overstayed their visas — and volunteers traveled to Arizona to distribute them. Self-Help is also at work on another series that will be geared at Los Angeles street vendors.
It’s made the current graphic available as a downloadable PDF from its website so anyone can produce or distribute the poster.
On Tuesday afternoon, a group of volunteer artists could be found printing the posters in bright shades of blue and pink onto thick stock paper and tying them up neatly with ribbons for distribution to passing motorists.
“We’ve been talking about doing this for a while,” says artist Melissa Govea. “But we wanted to do this today as a response to the news.”