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.”