In 2012, President Barack Obama passed an executive order that granted work permits and temporary protection from deportation to over 800,000 undocumented immigrants that were brought to the United States as children. The program was called "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," or DACA for short. In September 2017, the Trump administration announced that it was ending the program and phasing out deportation protections for its beneficiaries, also known as Dreamers.
In contrast to the narratives seen in the U.S. media, DACA beneficiaries are not a monolithic group. Dreamers come from every part of the world and from every walk of life. They have spent most of their young lives in the U.S., attending school and keeping a clean record. Some attend college, while others enroll in the military. Many were brought to the U.S. through the Mexican border, but many also overstayed their visas following an authorized entry. While each Dreamer has their own story to tell, what binds them together is the fact of documentation they obtained through the DACA program. Being undocumented in the U.S. means being denied access to the forms of documentation that enable life in civil society: work permits, driver's licenses, social security cards, health insurance cards, college financial aid programs, and so forth.
DACALOGUE is a study of immigration media as it pertains to the artist's experience with the DACA program between 2013 to 2017. The series is premised on the idea that an immigration system is a medium much in the same way that television or electric power can be considered a medium. States exercise sovereign authority over human migration through a regime of media comprised of visas, passports, work permits, IDs, Health Documents, as well as biometric data and information captured by private interests. If immigration can be understood as a medium, the bodies and labor of immigrants become the content, while the message is one of exclusion from a national identity. Immigration media has an austere poetics and an aesthetics of control defined through anti-counterfeit design and embedded tracking systems. Using scanner photography techniques, DACALOGUE paints the contradictions between the actuality of the living immigrant and the personhood afforded by state authorities.
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