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SO (Sew), America Cares

On May 7, 2018 the current administration announced a Zero 
Tolerance policy that required that all families who crossed the border without inspection should not only be separated but also charged in federal court with the misdemeanor crime of illegal entry. In the past, most children were released to relatives who agreed to be their sponsors. But many family members were reluctant to come forward when the government started requiring that all members of the household be fingerprinted and all information, including immigration status, be shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Initially, 
there was no system in place to reunite parents with their children, and hundreds of parents were deported without their children.

SO (Sew) America Cares raises awareness as to the consequences of this Draconian policy. Its mission is to advocate for these children and to extend an invitation to anyone who would like to participate. As a South Florida artist, I am concerned about the hundreds of separated children ending up in shelters across our country. I believe Art can impact the social context of these family separations and especially the lives of these children forced to live in camps with little hope of seeing their families anytime soon, if ever. Art can be a powerful tool in starting an open dialogue about Zero Tolerance in our community and in the rest of the country.

Because of poor documentation, many children can no longer be located in this national web of emergency shelters, their faces slowly but inexorably disappearing along with the prospects of reunification with their families. We cannot allow these traumatized children to be forgotten. Our plan is to "sew" them back, to never allow them to be lost again. Some of their faces will be sketched on cloth and people will be encouraged to stitch and sew on the drawings to recover the faces of these children. Thread by thread the community will dwell on the current circumstances of these children who never asked to illegal aliens. Each face will be sewn to become part of a larger piece, a quilt that reflects the lives of these children, the diversities of their origins and experiences. We have chosen to use textiles because textiles embody who we are and reflect our traditions and history. Textiles are formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, tatting, felting,braiding,lacing, brocading, and embroidering, the raw fibers or threads reflecting the bonding and interlacing material to Sew America. As is prehistoric times, textiles and fibers narrate the history of the world.

Sewing kits will be prepared and sold in museum shops. All proceeds will be used to help support AI Justice, an organization that began helping children separated from their parents at the Southwest Texas border in July 2017. Since then, the staff has represented about 120 of these children, some as young as three years old, and has helped reunite dozens of them with their families.

Local participation in this social art project not only demonstrates a 
moral connection in the lives of these children but a strengthening of the very fabric of our own community.

Abbey Chase-USA

Maria Lino-Cuba

Silvia Yapur-Argentina

Natalia Vazquez-Colombia

Paola Moreira-Chile

Marilyn Udell-USA

Gloria Franco-Venezuela

Alina Rodriguez-Cuba

Carla Bosh-Puerto Rico