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Immigrants Rights Groups Gather In Twin Falls For Art and Stories

Immigrants rights groups and advocates are gathering in Twin Falls City Park Sunday for an art exhibit and celebration of Latina and Latino culture in the Magic Valley.

Idaho artists are creating art pieces that tell the stories of undocumented people in the region. It’s a continuation of PODER of Idaho’s campaign, “Manejando Sin Miedo,” or “Driving Without Fear.”

Jocylene Contreras

For a few years, the organization, which is focused on supporting people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- or DACA -- program and undocumented people in Idaho, has been working to get the Idaho Legislature to support driving identification cards for residents who are undocumented.

Jocelyne Contreras of Canyon County is one of the artists involved with the event. She transformed a woman’s story about her experience driving as an undocumented person into a print she cut out of a linocut board.

“I kind of took inspiration from van Gogh and his swirls,” she said. “And I included the scenery of the classic Idaho -- like the plateaus and the corn fields, and the alfalfa being on the side of the road.”

Contreras was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and her family moved to the U.S. when she was two. She’s been a DACA scholar since she graduated from high school, and she tries to focus her artwork, which ranges from printmaking -- her specialty -- to painting and charcoal drawing, on the immigrant experience.

The woman whose story she s interpreting lives in Jerome and works in crop fields and in irrigation. Contreras said the woman is scared to drive as an undocumented person, even when doing daily tasks.

“Driving out to go take her kids to school or even just going to the grocery store, it’s a worry she has on her mind all the time,” Contreras said.

Republican Sen. Jim Guthrie of McCammon introduced the driver's license bill last legislative session with support from the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, but it failed in committee. Then Senate leadership indicated interest in forming an interim committee to discuss the matter further, but with the recess for a COVID-19 outbreak in the legislature, that idea never materialized.

PODER of Idaho has continued to advocate for this policy, which it says it important for people in Idaho living without legal immigration status.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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