New York-based photographer and DREAMer Ricardo Aca — who rose to national prominence after his video showcasing his life as an undocumented immigrant working in a Donald Trump hotel went viral — debuted a new exhibit this week challenging stereotypes about immigrants and immigration.
He’s continuing his mission to dispel misconceptions about immigrants in a new exhibit that opens Thursday at LaGuardia Community College, which will feature his photographs of immigrants holding signs with statements like “Not a Criminal” and “Not a Rapist.”
The photos are a response to Trump’s claims during his presidential campaign launch speech in June, where he called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” and claimed they bring drugs and crime into the country.
“It makes me upset,” Aca said of Trump’s politics. “We are the backbone of this country. This country is built of immigrants.”
Aca, 24, is undocumented himself, originally from Mexico. He grew up in Brooklyn and now lives in Ridgewood, and graduated from LaGuardia Community College three years ago with an associate’s degree in commercial photography.
He now works in the school’s photography lab, thanks to being part of a federal program that allows him to work legally.
Aca says he’s using photography to tell the stories of immigrants like himself.
Other works in his exhibit will include photographs he took of immigrants and first-generation immigrants at Harvard University holding signs with words like “American” and “Dreamer.”
The pictures will be accompanied by information about the students, including their reactions to Trump’s comments, and how immigration has affected their lives, Aca said.
“It’s important to share stories,” he said. “Video and photography are a very powerful tool to do that.”
Most recently, Aca joined AV’s Juan Escalante and a host of other organizations protesting Donald Trump’s widely-panned “Saturday Night Live” appearance last week, where advocates delivered well over half a million petition signatures demanding NBC not give the Presidential candidate’s bigoted views a national platform.