Through putting on events and getting people onto dancefloors, one obviously meets all kinds of people. This to me has been essential to building with people, learning, and creating stronger communities. That person I meet on a dancefloor often becomes the next person I organize with, or becomes the person who has my back in some sort of crisis situation. Amongst the many people with amazing stories I’ve met recently through organizing iBomba has been Dylan Quiroga, a 25-yr old South African living in the D.C area. For the past few months, Dylan has consistently come up to New York for tropical parties such as iBomba and Que Bajo, music scenes he feels connected to. Curious as to why Dylan would spend hours on a bus to hit up New York’s scenes, he told me that he was making the most of his time left in the U.S, because Dylan is set to be deported this coming Tuesday.
I’m an immigrant rights activist – it isn’t a surprise to me that the people who feel connected to global “tropical” music, who come and get down at these events we throw, are of all sorts of complicated immigration statuses. That’s why the nature of who is on the dancefloor is political. While these genres defy borders, many of us who feel connected to it remain limited; but the musical environments themselves, even just for a few hours, provide a means to transcend the realities of immigration and other barriers that restrict our daily lives. Stories we hear on dancefloors sometimes compel us to take action- so here’s a final push to stop Dylan’s deportation.
With only four days to go, there’s still a lot that can be done. Dylan has been working with the National Immigration Youth Alliance to challenge his case and to push Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to grant him a stay of removal (meaning to allow him to stay). This week, a rally was held in D.C to challenge his case, and there is still time to sign this petition and call the office of ICE director, John Morton, to ask that his deportation be stopped. Please take a second to call this number; it makes a huge difference.
Here’s more on Dylan’s story:
In August 2011, Dylan Quiroga, an undocumented student, was trying to see what he could of the United States and intended to travel to several cities by Greyhound bus. He wanted to go to Detroit to check out Motown museums and Detroit’s music scene. While on a bus in upstate New York, to his surprise, Immigrations Custom Enforcement (ICE) randomly made a random search, asking all the passengers if they were U.S citizens and asking for identification. Dylan, with his South African passport and expired U.S visa, was detained.
Dylan came to the U.S at the age of 17 under a dependency visa when his father moved for work. While most of his family including his father, stepmother, and teenage sister eventually received greencards, Dylan was the only who could not qualify because he was over 21 and no longer considered a dependent. Despite this complication, Dylan decided to stay and pursue his education, facing many barriers including the inability to get into a nursing program because of his status. Instead, he paid his own way through community college while working in D.C’s service industry.
I asked Dylan how he had the strength- after the trauma of being detained by ICE, and going through two court dates where the legal advice he received was that he should sign a voluntary departure form and leave for South Africa, and living under the threat of deportation- to continue enjoying music when he could. He said,
“I really wanted to appreciate and enjoy the people in this country before I left. These parties and these communities are so special and you don’t find it in a lot of places. To get all these different cultures in one place is special. I wanted to take it in and experience as much as possible. That’s why whenever I had a chance to come up to New York I would because I didn’t know when I’d get the chance to enjoy it again. This music is a way to connect people from different backgrounds, it connects our stories. It helps people identify with each other.”
I had a whole conversation with Dylan on the phone this week, where we talked about all of the connections between migration, global bass, the immigration debate in the U.S. and the politics of our daily lives. Here’s the transcript of the rest of our conversation.
In the meantime, please take a minute to support Dylan’s case by calling the numbers and signing the petition [links above].