Díaz Lewis installation at Weinberg Newton Gallery, Chicago. Photo courtesy the artists.

As the threat of ICE raids have immigrant communities nationwide on edge, the “34,000 Pillows Project” offers the public a chance to support organizations working on behalf of those currently and formerly detained by immigration authorities. In 2009, the US Congress passed a law mandating that an average of 34,000 beds be occupied in immigrant detention centers across the country. Although this mandate was repealed in 2017, over 41,000 immigrants remain in ICE custody, with more than 11,000 children in custody with the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Founded ten years ago by Los Angeles-based artist duo Díaz Lewis as a response to the detention bed quota, the “34,000 Pillows Project” is timely as ever. This Saturday, the artists will host a workshop at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, for volunteers to collaboratively make hand-sewn pillows from recycled clothing donated by undocumented immigrants, the formerly detained, and their supporters. Pillows will be sold for $159 — the average taxpayer cost of filling one bed per night at a detention center — with all proceeds going to immigrant advocacy organizations. In the manner of the lectores de tabaquería who educated and organized workers in pre-revolutionary Cuba, poets and musicians will perform readings of news, literature, and poetry about immigrant experiences during the workshop.

Photo courtesy Díaz Lewis

When: Saturday, July 20, 12-5pm
Where: Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1717 East 7th Street, Los Angeles, California)

More info at the ICA LA.

Abe is a writer based in Los Angeles.