Peruvian immigrant and South Dakota resident Hector Curriel spends his days working to help immigrants at Lutheran Social Services, and when he’s away from work he makes cartoons about issues that matter to him and the Hispanic community. Lately, he has found himself doing more and more cartoons about immigration, and unveiled one recently that takes on the situation of unaccompanied minors from Central America coming to the border.
He joined two things that resonate with him: The story of Pulitzer-winning undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas, and then the children at the border who find themselves at the center of a political battle that will determine their future.
“There’s a lot of misunderstanding about why the kids are coming and that they’re going to destroy the economy, bring diseases, or are maybe gang members,” Curriel told BuzzFeed. “What I wanted to show is there’s a lot of potential, those kids are coming to the country, they bring possibilities. Jose came like one of those kids as a child and now he’s a prominent Pulitzer winner. The kids are coming because they’re persecuted. They’re coming for opportunity, but they bring so much potential.”
Vargas, who loved the message of the cartoon, posted it on his public Facebook page where it racked up more than 1,300 likes and was shared 300 times.
“It’s not about a Pulitzer or a Purple Heart or an Emmy,” Vargas told Buzzfeed. “It’s about seeing these children and seeing potential and possibility. It’s about seeing these kids as human beings. Too much of the coverage and the conversation treats these children as if they are insects off our backs.”
Vargas himself was recently detained at the airport after going to the border, but was later released.
Curriel said despite the politics, people have to remember that this involves vulnerable children.
“I’m trying to educate people, there is a lot of misunderstanding. A lot of people seriously attack immigrants, so I wanted to show the other side of the story.”