Immigration Opponents’ Bricks Repurposed For A Respectful Bronx Artwork


By: Natasha Ghoneim for NY1

Immigration reform inspires passionate views, and hundreds of bricks sent to members of Congress to oppose amnesty have now formed a pro-immigrant artistic installation at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. NY1’s Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.

During the heat of the immigration reform debate several years ago, people sent bricks to members of Congress, symbolizing support for building a wall along the Mexican border.

Scrawled on the bricks were messages such as “No Amnesty,” and a few bore the verbal equivalent of hurling a brick through a window.

Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano became angry and collected 273 bricks, which were transformed into an art installation at Hostos Community College in Mott Haven, Bronx.

“I was able to tell them, ‘You sent these to me in anger and I’m returning them to you in peace,’” says Serrano.

The artist, Hatuey Ramon-Fermin, who is also a teacher and an immigrant, wanted to transform the hate on the bricks into a more respectful dialogue through his artwork, entitled, “Conversing Bricks.”

“There were different kinds of messages that were really hateful,” says Ramon-Fermin.

Immigrants were involved in every step of the creative process, from transporting the bricks to the Bronx to writing messages of their own on the bricks.

“I wish that people reflect and go deeper into the conversation. We’re all a part of this country,” says Ramon-Fermin.

Alvaro Ceballos, a 19-year-old Dominican immigrant, says the message he painted on his brick, “We Are The World,” sums up the issue simply.

“Who immigrants are, we are the world because we’re here. So we are the world,” says Ceballos.

Now the bricks are part of another wall intended to celebrate immigrants, legal or not.


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