The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Installed a Día de Muertos Altar for Immigrants and Asylum Seekers Who Died in US Custody

Lead Photo: Day of the Dead altar in Michoacan, Mexico. Photo by Jose Carlos Macouzet Espinosa / Getty Images
Day of the Dead altar in Michoacan, Mexico. Photo by Jose Carlos Macouzet Espinosa / Getty Images
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For the first time, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) has installed a Día de Muertos altar in the U.S. Capitol Building — and they’ve dedicated it to the immigrants and asylum seekers who died while in federal custody or journeying to the country.

“We are proud that our altar stands in the U.S. Capitol this week so we can collectively uplift each of their stories and remember the brave folks who sought a better life in our country,” he added,” said CHC Chairman Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas).

According to The Hill, the altar includes the photos of 14 people.

This year alone, eight adults have died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers. Over the last week, two people passed away while in Border Patrol custody in the state of Arizona.

“I think it’s sad that we have to do this,” Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) said of building altars for migrants who died, often avoidably, in the hands of the country’s immigration system. “We have to continue to honor them and their memory to remind ourselves of the fight that we have now and need to continue to forge ahead. But we shouldn’t have to do ofrendas for migrants that are dying on U.S. soil.”

The altar, which is filled with photos, flowers and candles, includes a framed image of Oscar and Valeria Ramírez, a Honduran 27-year-old father and his two-year-old daughter who died trying to cross the Rio Grande in June.

“My heart breaks for Oscar and Valeria and other families who have perished while seeking refuge in the U.S.,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who visited the altar this week, tweeted.

Across the country, other groups and individuals have been dedicating Día de Muertos altars to migrants and asylum seekers as well as the 22 people who passed away during the El Paso shooting this summer.