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May 14 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Join Silky Shah, Alina Das, and a panel of organizers for a conversation about the intersections between immigrant rights, racial justice, and prison abolition.

“Those who build walls are their own prisoners. I am going to go fulfill my proper function in the social organism. I’m going to go unbuild walls.”

—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

Drawing from over twenty years of activism on local and national levels, Silky Shah’s Unbuild Walls offers an organizer’s perspective on the intersections of immigrant rights, racial justice, and prison abolition. In the wake of post-9/11 xenophobia, Obama’s record-level deportations, Trump’s immigration policies, and the 2020 uprisings for racial justice, the US remains entrenched in a circular discourse regarding migrant justice. As organizer Silky Shah argues in Unbuild Walls, we must move beyond building nicer cages or advocating for comprehensive immigration reform. Our only hope for creating a liberated society for all, she insists, is abolition. Unbuild Walls dives into US immigration policy and its relationship to mass incarceration, from the last forty years up to the present, showing how the prison-industrial complex and immigration enforcement are intertwined systems of repression. Incorporating historical and legal analyses, Shah’s personal experience as an organizer, as well as stories of people, campaigns, organizations, and localities that have resisted detention and deportation, Shah assesses the movement’s strategies, challenges, successes, and shortcomings. Featuring a foreword by Amna A. Akbar, Unbuild Walls is an expansive and radical intervention, bridging the gaps between movements for immigrant rights, racial justice, and prison abolition.

Alina Das is an immigrant rights attorney, activist, and James Weldon Johnson professor at New York University (NYU) School of Law. Professor Das is the co-director of the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic, a leading institution in national and local struggles for immigrant rights. She defends the rights of immigrants facing deportation and partners with community groups on immigrant rights campaigns. Her legal scholarship has been published by leading law journals and cited by the U.S. Supreme Court. She is the author of No Justice in the Shadows: How America Criminalizes Immigrants (Bold Type Books, April 2020). She is a recipient of numerous awards including the Immigrant Defense Project Champion of Justice Award, the Daniel Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration Law, and the NYU Law School Podell Distinguished Teaching Award. She is a frequent commentator on immigration law and policy for national and local media outlets. Professor Das lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Sophia Elena Gurulé is a member of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA)-UAW Local 2325 as well as an organizer with Critical Resistance and UAW Labor for Palestine. She is also a Senior Staff Attorney and Senior Policy Counsel to the Immigration Practice at The Bronx Defenders, where she defends people in ICE detention facing deportation as well as advocates for policies to protect criminalized, working class immigrant communities from ICE enforcement.

Tania Mattos, a proud Aymara descendant born in Bolivia and raised in Queens, NY, is a seasoned organizer, activist, and policy advocate with over 13 years of dedicated service. As a founding member of the Abolish ICE NY NJ Coalition, established in 2018 to galvanize efforts to end ICE detention in both states. Moreover, she also recently won a three-decades-long fight to stay in the United States with the support of UnLocal, an immigration legal organization she now leads as the Interim Executive Director. Fuelled by her rich cultural heritage and upbringing in Queens, Tania draws inspiration from her cultural heritage and Queens upbringing, fueling her unwavering commitment to organizing, fostering leadership, and striving for freedom within all impacted communities.

Mon Mohapatra (she/they) is a writer, organizer and artist originally from India, based on Canarsee Land (NYC) whose work involves building capacity for abolitionist organizing through political education, participatory research, and direct action. In particular, her work focuses on ending pretrial detention by resourcing criminalized and imprisoned people to organize themselves, while creating opportunities for collaboration on anti-carceral strategies across feminist, anti-caste, and anti-capitalist movements. Mon was a founding coordinator of the No New Jails Network, a national network of campaigns fighting new jail construction and to close old jails, without expanding supervision and social control.

Watch the livestream for the event HERE.


May 14
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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The People’s Forum
320 West 37th Street
New York, NY 10018 United States
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