Elizabeth Rodriguez (Orange is the New Black), Sakina Jaffrey (House of Cards), Kathleen Chalfant (Wit), David Schwimmer (Friends), Malina Weisman (A Series of Unfortunate Events), and Arian Moayed (Succession) are among the artists lending their voices to The Flores Exhibits, a series of short videos that amplify the voices of children held in detention facilities at the United States-Mexico Border. The project, now live, is a collaboration between Waterwell, the theatre company co-founded by Moayed, and the Broadway Advocacy Coalition.
The adovcacy project, which is part of a national campaign to establish legal protections for immigrant childrent currently being held in such facilities, is named after the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement. The agreement set a limit on the length of time a child can be detained, requires that they be held in the least restrictive area possible, and guarantees access to basic hygiene supplies, adequate nutrition, and appropriate clothing.
Despite the agreement, in June 2019, a team of independent lawyers took more than 60 testimonies from children detailing lengthy stays, ongoing family separations, and dirty, unsafe conditions. These testimonies are what are read in The Flores Exhibit; they were also submitted as part of a Temporary Restraining Order filed by the National Center for Youth Law seeking to provide immediate relief to children living without access to basic hygiene supplies and adequate nutrition or sleep.
“We made this project to bring sustained, substantive attention to the effects of the unconscionable conditions being deliberately created at the U.S.-Mexico border detention facilities—particularly on children, young adults, and young mothers with infants,” says Lee Sunday Evans, Waterwell's artistic director. “Bringing together artists, activists, lawyers, judges, and immigrants to read these grueling testimonies is an organizing effort to uphold the protections outlined in The Flores Settlement, now and in the future.”
As well as well-known actors, The Flores Exhibit videos feature lawyers, artists, advocates, and immigrants, including Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Bitta Mostofi, Jeffrey S. Chase, a former immigration judge, and Luis Mancheno, an immigration lawyer and refugee from Ecuador.
The Flores Exhibits is co-created by Waterwell and the Broadway Advocacy Coalition in collaboration with the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School.