A cartoon in The Washington Post shows a child locked in a cage on the left side, displaying the following sign: “Kids in cages.” The right side shows the same child, in the same cage, but with a different sign: “Migrant child facility.” Its author is cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz, the first Latino recipient of the Herblock Award 2022. Alcaraz displays acid humor and wonders about immigration policy, “Why is it still a disaster?”
Little or nothing has changed for Latin American migrants since Joe Biden became president of the United States. We have hardly noticed any difference from the Donald Trump era, or when Obama was in office. During Barak Obama’s presidency there were more migrant deportations than during the presidency of the cantankerous Trump.
“Presidents change, but the border police are the same. They always mistreat migrants, whose only crime is wanting to settle in the United States, hoping to find a better life. Or just a life. Because in their countries of origin there are totalitarian, populist, and strongmen regimes that despise human life. Especially if the human being is a dissident, or poor, or both at the same time, which is most often the case.” These are the words of Lalo Alcaraz, from Los Angeles (California), in declarations to Sol de Medianoche. Lalo is the only Latino to have won the prestigious Herblock Award, in this year’s 2022 edition.
Alcaraz was 13 years old when his father, a landscaper and plant nursery worker in San Diego, died. Far from expressing sympathy, a customer casually asked Lalo to give him the phone number of another gardener, to replace his deceased father. It scarred Lalo. His father was not a replaceable piece of furniture. It was the beginning of his career as a cartoonist of critical humor, sometimes acid, against the powerful of all kinds. “I became an angry cartoonist,” he says.
Today, Lalo Alcaraz is 58 years old, and for the past 30, he has been drawing with a critical and disbelieving look at Power, any Power, like that, with a capital P. And he has been able to verify in his own flesh that “critical humor always annoys the powerful.t” They don’t even bother to conceal their desire that newspaper editors stop publishing his critical cartoons (Los Angeles Weekly, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, among others...)
“I voted for Joe Biden, and he has disappointed me, as has Vice President Kamala Harris. I wonder why he doesn’t fix at once the drama of thousands of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border,” says Lalo Alcaraz. “I am concerned about the situation to which Central Americans are subjected, because Mexican migrants, after all, are in their own country, but the Central Americans waiting at the Mexican border are already abroad, helpless to Mexican authorities and those of their own country.” “I call for a just immigration policy,” Lalo adds. “Recently, I posted a drawing showing the border wall of Mexico with the United States with two gates. One was closed. Hundreds of thousands of Hispanic migrants were crowded behind it. The other was open and had a red carpet, as a sign of welcome to those passing through. These people were Ukrainian refugees who have fled their country because of the Russian invasion. The Ukrainians are living a tragedy. But thousands of Latin American families are also suffering, and I fear they will not be treated equally. I call for fairness and justice for ALL migrants equally.”
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