Giving Detained Immigrant Moms a Mother’s Day Boost

Several nonprofits have teamed up to bring cheer to undocumented women in detention centers across the U.S.

Mother’s Day card designs by Rommy Torrico (left), Jess X. Chen (top right), and Julio Salgado. (Illustrations: Courtesy Julio Salgado/CultureStrike)

May 7, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Alex Reed is an editorial intern at TakePart and a senior at the University of Southern California.

A bouquet of flowers, breakfast in bed, or brunch at her favorite restaurant—on Mother’s Day, the nation’s moms will be getting an extra dose of love and appreciation. But the moms among the roughly 34,000 undocumented immigrants being held in detention facilities across the United States will spend the holiday like they do every other day: behind bars.

That’s why a group of nonprofits hopes to brighten their day with well-deserved greeting cards. Strong Families, an initiative from the multiracial organization Forward Together, has teamed up with artist collective CultureStrike and Latino advocacy group for their “Mamas Day” campaign to produce and distribute cards for undocumented mothers who have been detained.

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“There are mothers in detention centers who will not be able to see their children or families to celebrate Mother’s Day—and if this brings a little light into the horrible conditions they’re going through, we’re doing our job,” Julio Salgado, artist projects coordinator for CultureStrike, told TakePart.

Mother’s Day card design by Breena Nuñez.

(Illustration: Courtesy Julio Salgado/CultureStrike)

Salgado and several other CultureStrike artists created illustrations for a project last August that depicted the experiences of detained immigrants based on letters they had written. Four of those images are now available to be signed as cards on the Mamas Day website.

When CultureStrike joined forces with Strong Families, which has produced Mamas Day e-cards to celebrate nontraditional motherhood since 2011, Salgado suggested taking the project a step further by printing and hand delivering the cards. “We wanted it to come full circle and to be able to give those cards back to the mothers” who inspired the illustrations, Salgado said.

More than 5,000 cards have been filled out online and will be distributed to several detention facilities across the country this weekend.

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The hope is that the cards will not only lift the spirits of detained mothers but also raise awareness of the conditions for immigrants in detention facilities.

“Immigrants and immigrant communities are experiencing high levels of fear and attack,” Kalpana Krishnamurthy, senior policy director for Forward Together, told TakePart. “It felt like an important way to express the solidarity that so many folks feel about immigrant mamas who are hoping for a better life.”

While the focus of the cards this year is women in immigration detention facilities, Strong Families’ “Mamas Day” campaign has enlisted artists to illustrate e-cards with images of mothers of varying races, sexual orientations, income, and immigration status since its inception.

“The images we see celebrated on Mother’s Day are really pretty narrow images of motherhood,” Krishnamurthy said. “By working with artists to create images of motherhood that look like the mamas in our communities and in our families and the mamas that we love, we are really expanding the idea of what motherhood is.”