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Movimiento Cosecha’s protest projection on Trump Tower on September 8, 2016 (all images courtesy Movimiento Cosecha)

To protest Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, activists projected 30-foot-tall images of migrant workers onto the gleaming façade of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan on September 8. The demonstration was led by newly launched nonviolent group Movimiento Cosecha, which advocates for the rights and permanent protection of undocumented immigrants.

Featuring 11 workers in hardhats and neon vests holding signs that read “Sin manos, no hay obra” (“Without hands, there is no work”), the video played for several minutes above the window of the Prada store on Fifth Avenue. It was a reminder of the fact that, despite his professed plans to “build a wall” on the Mexican border to deter immigration, Trump employed some 200 undocumented Polish workers when he built his tower 35 years ago. They were paid $5 a day. The Washington Post reported earlier this year that Trump’s real estate company may still be relying on undocumented workers for its building projects.

The action came one week after eight members of Movimiento Cosecha were arrested for chaining themselves to the doors of Trump Tower, where the businessman lives and runs his campaign. Organizer Vera Parra told Hyperallergic that some 400 people gathered to watch the act of civil disobedience. “Most people were very supportive, giving us thumbs up, and many asked for more information about the movement,” she said. “We got a similar reaction during the projection, but there were fewer people on the street.” Protesters also spread their message across social media using the hashtag #BuiltByUs.

“We are the pillars of the economy, and as immigrants, we feel a burning indignation when we listen to politicians, the media, and Trump supporters give reasons why we should be deported; why our families should be separated; why our contributions to this country hold no value,” said Thais Marques, one of the immigrant protesters arrested at Trump Tower, in a statement released by Movimiento Cosecha.

“Our goal is to get the broader American public to recognize its dependence on immigrant labor,” Parra told Hyperallergic. “Cosecha aims to change the political weather. We trust that when the immigrant community uses its economic and labor power to show the broader public what this country would really look like without immigrants, legislation will follow.”

Movimiento Cosecha’s protest projection on Trump Tower on September 8, 2016

Movimiento Cosecha’s protest at Trump Tower on September 8, 2016

Movimiento Cosecha’s protest projection on Trump Tower on September 8, 2016

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Carey Dunne

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Baffler, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.

5 replies on “Light Projection Aims to Remind Trump His Tower Was Built by Undocumented Workers”

  1. When will artists (my people of all) understand that Trump is a businessman who profits from what his competition profits from to succeed in business?
    When will they understand that the will of the working people is to have the wall built to keep the illegals out? Calling them undocumented is a cheap political trick.
    If I see an undocumented in my kitchen, I’ll show him or her the door, gun in hand if necessary (not my first choice).
    The government gave the citizenship of Faulkner and Pollock to hundreds of illegals on the to-be-deported list. This and sanctuaries should stop. I don’t have a sanctuary for parasites.
    You want to be a hand, get a work permit. You want to be a citizen, adopt the culture.
    (there’s plenty of it, although too many idiots mock it)

    1. The majority of America’s “founding fathers” were immigrants that came in to other people’s land and homes uninvited. They relied heavily on the native americans who provided them sanctuary and taught them the farming and skills to survive, yet refused to adopt the natives’ culture and eventually kicked them out of their own land and slaughtered the majority of their population. Its hypocritical to call undocumented immigrants “parasites” when looking at the roots of our history and foundation that is celebrated and revered.

      & I think we all understand that trump is a businessman and how competition works.

      1. That was then, and this is now.
        Are you advocating for illegals to murder the actual US population?
        Europeans started the slaughter of American natives, before there was an US, and unfortunately the Americans continued the tradition.
        Is anyone blaming the Europeans for what they did?

        You may understand how competition works, but Trump is being accused of having products made in China, of having employed illegals, all methods used by others legally.
        Change the law and make it better for all.
        The wall will have a door because business needs more hands, but documentation is needed to know who is who, who can do what…

        1. Obviously I’m not advocating for murder ….

          Everyone should acknowledge american’s history as whitewashed and flawed.. which is why Trump’s slogan makes absolutely no sense. If “that was then and this is now” why is Trump’s main argument to make america great *again*. America was never *great*and our nation should not aspire to revert to the past. The current immigrants’ “crimes” pale in comparison to the massacres and atrocities throughout the “great” american history. Beyond the slaughtering of the natives…slavery, sexism, xenophobia, the treatment of the japanese, the list can go on and on and continues to this day. There is no period in american history that can be considered “great.” It may have been great for rich white dudes like Trump who were more powerful and successful in promoting their own interests at the expense of others. His “law and order” and “plans” will undoubtably revert back to his perceived “great” glamorized, unequal, American history– thats for sure.
          His trickle down economic strategy will only benefit rich businessmen like himself. His laws will make the country so much worse for so many people (like women, minorities, immigrants, muslims, and the poor), and only better for a fraction of the US population.

          But I digress…

          Bottom line is that he has used both foreign cheap labor and illegal immigrants in his business. It is hypocritical to capitalize off them and suddenly now he wants companies to switch to US, legal labor. It is a clear cry for voters in the working class. Our country was founded by immigrants. We were just incredibly lucky because our ancestors came before immigration laws were written.

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