The Leave No One Behind Mural Project (LNOBMP) is a participatory multi-site, multi-mural, digital storytelling project that fuses the arts with community political advocacy to visibilize the stories of immigrants dismissed from conversations surrounding the future of U.S. childhood arrivals. The project implements a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) method to facilitate engagement with community organizers, mural installation efforts, and calls to action. Through low to no cost mural installations, we created safe spaces for community engagement, advocacy, and healing.
The project was created in response to the growing numbers of immigrants that entered the U.S. as minors (‘childhood arrivals’) forcibly returned to their country of birth. Amidst a political climate and immigrant rights efforts that exclude deported childhood arrivals, the LNOBMP calls for the inclusion of previously deported childhood arrivals in discussions about immigration, specifically those regarding repatriation efforts.
The project makes the case that in being childhood arrivals, their upbringing in the U.S. results in exclusive ties to the country reinforced by strong cultural and social identity, and that displacing them to a country foreign to them can cause great emotional harm. The project proposes an inclusive approach to current debates surrounding the future of childhood arrivals, and urges to leave no one behind.
The project is co-directed by Robert Vivar, Jennifer Martinez-Medina, and Lizbeth De La Cruz Santana, who joined forces in January of 2021 to set in motion a plan to keep the Biden-Harris administration accountable to their campaign promises of 1) halting forcible separation of families through deportation and 2) repatriating deported U.S. veterans within their first 100 days in office.
The project began its efforts by commissioning thematic murals created by lead artist Javier Salazar Rojas, a deported permanent resident from Oakland, CA currently residing in Tijuana, Mexico. The murals center the stories of U.S. childhood arrivals that spent most of their young and early adult life in the U.S. Each mural provokes a narrative linked to the experiences of deported dreamers, deported veterans, veterans who passed away in exile, voluntary returned and undocumented childhood arrivals.
The murals center immigrant stories through quick response (QR) codes that, when scanned, lead audiences to a digital archive where audiences can view, read, and listen to a range of testimonies. These testimonies are presented in various forms, including digital storytelling, letters, podcasts, and interviews.
The project was founded with six objectives in mind: 1) inclusivity, 2) coalition building, 3) community engagement, 4) healing, 5) political advocacy, and 6) currency of care. Together, the framework implemented for the project has supported the creation of seven thematic murals with 85 storytellers representing 11 countries.
Our coalition is asking Joe Biden to
- Pass the New Way Forward Act proposed by Representative Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (IL-40),
- Correct the injustice of deporting veterans by supporting H.R. 1182 Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act
- Call on the Hispanic Caucus and the black caucus to pull efforts to push these bills out of committee to the floor for approval
- End family separations and provide an avenue for family reunification, and support the legalization of Childhood Arrivals and Dreamers in the U.S.
The Leave No One Behind Mural Project is a multi-sited public art project backed by a coalition urging the Biden-Harris administration and Congress to enact immigration policy to protect Childhood Arrivals, repatriate Deported Veterans, end family separation, and reunite families.
The project seeks to uplift the stories of thirty-three Deported Veterans, Dreamers, Childhood Arrivals, and permanent residents currently left our of President Biden’s Immigration Reform. The donations will be used to pay mural installations at several key locations across the United States, with a final mural posted by Deported Veteran advocates Cesar Nunez and Jesus Manuel Valenzuela in Washington, DC.
"Bring back those who had OUR back"