Cages Full of "Children" Appear Across New York

Immigrant children are still being held in cages at the border — and this disturbing art installation serves as a wake-up call.

Kids in Cages

Cages filled with prop children began appearing all over New York in Summer 2019. The timing is no coincidence. The installations are part of a social campaign called #NoKidsInCages, which aims to show the reality of living conditions endured by immigrant children at the border. The campaign is a joint project by ad agency Badgers & Winters, and RAICES, a non-profit providing legal services to immigrant and refugee families.

The 24 installations, which appear to be constructed of paper, replicate sleeping children in cages and are accompanied by speakers playing the audio. Some of the audio comes from clips recorded inside a migrant holding facility and published by ProPublica last year. The installations went viral on social media on June 12, before being taken down by the NYPD. Ryan says he expected the authorities to take the cages down, but he didn't expect police to stop people from seeing them. The displays, titled with the slogan "No Kids in Cages," were left outside of Google’s New York headquarters, highly trafficked parts of the city and several news organizations, including CNN, Fox News and Newsweek, as well as one outside the Barclays Center that police have removed, according to the newspaper.

There are currently over 200 immigrant jails and detention centers across The United States according to the organization Freedom for Immigrants. In late 2018, the number of children in the immigration process held was estimated to be around 15,000 based on an article from The New York Times. The installations appeared a week after federal officials announced they would open three emergency shelters for thousands of unaccompanied minors amid overcrowding at facilities. The number of unaccompanied children apprehended this fiscal year has increased 74 percent to more than 56,000, according to the Post.

Ryan says this practice goes against American values and he will continue to fight for immigrants rights through activism.