Migration Is Beautiful

Artists’ Statement on Immigration Reform

Dear President Obama and Members of Congress,

Immigrants are Americans. They are our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters, our partners, our children, grandparents, co-workers, neighbors, and friends. As members of the creative community, we are committed to seeing and showing the humanity of the immigrant story. Through music, theater, visual art, literature, film, television, dance, and other genres, immigrant and refugee artists have defined and redefined our American culture and history. They help renew our national story.

Yet immigration policy in this country has become incoherent and inhumane. In recent years over a million deportations have divided American families, often separating parents from children. Some immigrants have waited almost a quarter of a century to be reunited with family members. With federal policy in tatters, states have passed immoral laws of questionable constitutionality that profile, isolate, and criminalize immigrants. A broken and unjust immigration policy is bad for us all—it erodes the social fabric and undermines our shared values of equity and empathy.

We believe that this predicament reflects not only a failure of policy but a failure of imagination. Migration is natural and beautiful. The human truth is that all people move, and all people have rights. Creating a just and humane immigration process is a moral and cultural imperative that secures the future of a vibrant nation.

For the first time in a generation, legislators have a real opportunity to acknowledge the complexity and truth of the American immigrant story, which is one of hope, dignity, and faith in democracy. Immigration reform should reflect our shared belief in fairness and inclusion. We believe immigration reform must:

  • End the detentions and deportations that cause separation and suffering for families;
  • Preserve families by expediting the visa process and retaining longstanding policies that reunite and stabilize families;
  • Ensure all immigrants have basic workers’ rights;
  • Provide equal immigration rights to LGBTQ individuals and families; and
  • Create a clear roadmap to citizenship that includes all 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Walt Whitman said that America could be "strong, ample, and fair," and that it was capable of "containing multitudes"—a multitude of stories, told in a myriad of ways, by many different storytellers. We urge you now to act with that vision of American diversity and freedom in your hearts.


  • Daniel Alarcón
  • Julia Alvarez
  • Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam)
  • Antibalas
  • Jason M. Aragón
  • René Balcer
  • Russell Banks
  • Ceci Bastida
  • W. Kamau Bell
  • Ben Best
  • Ross Bleckner
  • Cake
  • Calexico
  • Cindy Campbell
  • Bobby Cannavale
  • Enrique Chagoya
  • Jeff Chang
  • Stockard Channing
  • Margaret Cho
  • Teju Cole
  • Robbie Conal
  • William Cordova
  • Chuck D
  • Blythe Danner
  • Thulani Davis
  • Kimya Dawson
  • Rosario Dawson
  • Zack de la Rocha
  • DeVotchKa
  • Junot Díaz
  • Abigail E. Disney
  • Steve Earle
  • Dave Eggers
  • Ron English
  • Shepard Fairey
  • Negin Farsad
  • Eric Fischl
  • Flobots
  • Tom Fontana
  • Sia Furler
  • Merrill Garbus
  • Gogol Bordello
  • Louie Gong
  • April Gornik
  • André Gregory
  • Aurora Guerrero
  • Sonia Guinansaca
  • Jessica Hagedorn
  • Ed Harris
  • Logan Hicks
  • How and Nosm
  • David Henry Hwang
  • Indigo Girls
  • Vijay Iyer
  • Pramila Jayapal
  • Ha Jin
  • Gaye Theresa Johnson
  • Wayne Kramer
  • Kronos Quartet
  • Hari Kunzru
  • La Santa Cecilia
  • Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Jon Langford
  • John Leguizamo
  • Martyn LeNoble
  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Liz Manne
  • Adam Mansbach
  • Peter Matthiessen
  • Frances McDormand
  • Erin McKeown
  • Tom Morello
  • Wangechi Mutu
  • My Morning Jacket
  • Mira Nair
  • Graham Nash
  • Edward James Olmos
  • Ozomatli
  • Guillermo Gómez-Peña
  • Tony Plana
  • Joel Rafael
  • Robert Redford
  • Ishmael Reed
  • R.E.M.
  • Retna
  • Rise Against
  • Favianna Rodriguez
  • Salman Rushdie
  • Julio Salgado
  • Yosi Sergant
  • Gary Shteyngart
  • Sarah Silverman
  • Sam Sparro
  • State Radio
  • George Stevens, Jr.
  • Swoon
  • Jim Taylor
  • Ed Templeton
  • Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
  • The Roots
  • Hank Willis Thomas
  • Justin Torres
  • Chase Twichell
  • Luis Urrea
  • Jose Antonio Vargas
  • Sage Vaughn
  • Vendela Vida
  • Alice Walker
  • Colson Whitehead
  • Alfre Woodard
  • Jasiri X
  • Z-Trip


Please share these butterflies and help spread "Migration is Beautiful"

Favianna Rodriguez Ray Hernandez Jason Carne Julio Salgado

Support just and humane immigration reform

Join the 100+ artists by signing and sharing the statement:

Thank you for signing!


Spread Your Wings! Create your own butterfly art with friends and family, or order a kit to help build awareness in your community.

Order Kit


Building awareness is key to changing public consciousness. Help spread the word in your community with a Migration is Beautiful t-shirt, or go big with a Migration is Beautiful Action Kit, which includes 5 posters, 5 stickers, 3 pins, a t-shirt, and an action guide. Proceeds from the sales of these kits will support ongoing pro-migrant cultural projects of The Culture Group, Air Traffic Control, and CultureStrike. Scroll down to learn more about our work.

Order Kit


What does your butterfly look like? Download these black and white butterfly templates stencils and make butterfly art with your friends and family. All you need are basic art supplies—crayons, markers, scissors, and/or watercolor paints—along with these print outs. Instructions are included in the downloadable file. Be sure to share your masterpiece with friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Order Kit


Planning to join public events, marches and rallies for immigration reform? Bring your wings! This template provides instructions to make your own pair of butterfly wings out of recycled cardboard. Basic art supplies required, including tempera or acrylic paints, a cutting blade, 6 feet of scrap fabric, and access to a printer that can print tabloid size (11 x 17 inches). Best done with friends—throw a wing-making party! (Note: This file is 25 MB so it may take a few minutes to load.)


Speak out! Send a message to lawmakers by clicking on their picture and sending them a tweet.

Tweet ObamaTweet SchumerTweet FeinsteinTweet GrahamTweet Hatch


The Artists’ Statement on Immigration Reform and MigrationIsBeautiful.com are collaborations of The Culture Group, Air Traffic Control, and CultureStrike.

The Culture Group is a collaboration of social change experts and creative producers who believe that social change begins with cultural change.

CultureStrike is a network of artists, writers, filmmakers, comedians, and other cultural workers who call for meaningful and just immigration reform in 2013, want to eradicate anti-immigrant hate, and create positive narratives around migration.

Air Traffic Control provides strategy and support to musicians and other artists so that they may play an effective and vital role in the promotion of social justice.

About the artwork

Artist and co-founder of CultureStrike, Favianna Rodriguez, created the “Migration is Beautiful” butterfly image. “The butterfly symbol was not my idea. Immigrant rights activists have seen the butterfly as a symbol of fluid and peaceful migration for generations. To me, the monarch butterfly represents the dignity and resilience of migrants, and the right that all living beings have to move freely. I believe that we shouldn’t allow our identity to be defined only by our suffering, nor by the actions that others have taken to devalue our families and our labor — rather, let us celebrate our beauty, pride, and resilience in the face of inequality and injustice.”




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