Letter From Juan Garcia Mosqueda—NYC Gallerist & Legal Resident—Denied Entry to US

by Michael Anthony Farley on March 1, 2017 · 3 comments Art and Society + Newswire


Juan Garcia Mosqueda. Portrait by Lauren Coleman [H/T Dezeen]

Juan Garcia Mosqueda, Founder of Chelsea design gallery Chamber and curator, has been denied entry to the United States by border patrol agents. This, despite the fact that the Argentina-born Mosqueda has been a legal US resident for 10 years.

On February 24th, while returning from Buenos Aires, Mosqueda was detained for what he describes as a “36-hour nightmare” during which he was denied legal counsel, food, and privacy while using the bathroom. Fourteen hours later, he was forced to board a flight returning to Buenos Aires.

From "Domestic Appeal"

From “Domestic Appeal”

As such, Mosqueda will miss the tomorrow night’s opening of Domestic Appeal, curated Matylda Krzykowski (which looks fantastic) at his own gallery . He’s written a letter to his friends and colleagues about the ordeal, titled The Visible Wall, which we’re republishing below.

Chamber gallery couldn’t provide specifics on the details of Mosqueda’s immigration issue, as he’s in the process of re-applying for entry to the United States. We have a notoriously difficult visa process, even for visitors from neighboring countries. It’s a stark contrast to most nations in the Americas and Europe, where it’s far easier to cross borders for cultural events.

This is far from the first time art workers from Latin America have had trouble at the border. Last year, we published a piece by Marcelo Baez on the headaches and injustices New York’s foreign-born culture workers deal with. If our broken (and ever worsening) immigration system doesn’t improve, we’re likely to see a massive brain drain as people take their business and ideas elsewhere.

If you want to show support for Chamber, head to the opening reception tomorrow, March 2nd, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Their address is 515 W 23rd St.

The Visible Wall

Dear Friends,

This past Friday, February 24, 2017, I was denied entry into the United States — the nation where I have been legally residing for the past ten years. The procedure was dehumanizing and degrading every step of the way.

After being escorted to the secondary inspection premises, I was brought down for interrogation where I was questioned under oath and threatened with the possibility of being barred from entering the country for five years.

The border patrol officer denied me the right to legal counseling, arrogantly claiming that lawyers had no jurisdiction at the borders. Shortly after my sworn statement was delivered to the chief officer in charge, they informed me that I was not permitted to come into the country and, therefore, would be forced onto the return flight to Buenos Aires later that evening.

During the following fourteen excruciatingly painful hours, I was prohibited from the use of any means of communication and had no access to any of my belongings, which were ferociously examined without any warrant whatsoever. I was deprived of food. I was frisked three times in order to go to the bathroom, where I had no privacy and was under the constant surveillance of an officer.

Finally, I was escorted by two armed officers directly onto the plane and denied my documents until I reached my destination, Buenos Aires.

This thirty-six hour nightmare is nothing but clear evidence of a deeply flawed immigration system in the United States, carried out by an administration that is more interested in expelling people than admitting them.

I was educated in America, worked at prestigious design entities, and, now, as you all know, own a gallery which employs Americans and non-Americans alike. Chamber supports architecture and design studios in the United States and abroad.

I own several properties in New York and have collaborated in numerous projects with architects, contractors, and construction workers to bring to life projects around the city. We have created a network within the creative industries that span all disciplines and media that help individuals sustain their practices and do what they love.

We proudly carry the New York flag to every fair that we do and every project we initiate across the globe. We self-publish books printed in the United States. And, needless to say, we pay considerable federal and state taxes that help fund many of the societal aspects that fuel the American engine.

Although I am not an American citizen, Chamber is an American product that I hope adds to the cultural landscape of the country. The gallery was conceived in alignment with the same idea of inclusion that was found in the streets of the Lower East Side (where I live and was denied access to) not so long ago: a melting pot of all nationalities and religions, importing ideas from abroad to a culturally embracing metropolis.

We have worked with over 200 artists and designers, from Tokyo to Los Angeles, from Amsterdam to Santiago, in our less than three years of existence and rely heavily on social mobility to get our message across and display the works that we want to show.

To my American friends, I urge you to contact your congressmen and push for immigration reform. Push for a system that does not alienate, intimidate, and bully foreigners but that, on the contrary, welcomes and encourages citizens from all countries to want to keep investing in and contributing to your wonderful country.

This coming Thursday, I will not be able to celebrate the opening of our newest show, Domestic Appeal, which my team and I worked hard to conceive, and will not be able to meet some of the incredible participants that are traveling to the United States to take pride in displaying their creations in one of the most culturally relevant cities on the planet.

Please come see it, have a glass of wine, and enjoy it on my behalf!

Hope to see you all very soon,

Juan Garcia Mosqueda
Buenos Aires, Argentina

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