The “Welcome Visitor” diptych is an exploration of the contradictions between America’s tourism industry and it’s immigration policies; the uncomfortable collision of economic opportunism and xenophobia. We’ve probably all seen the Schoolhouse Rock! about Ellis Island and “The Great American Melting Pot,” but we’re now witnessing the fear surrounding the scapegoating of Latinos and Muslims.
In “Welcome Visitor,” I highlight the immigration ban and internment of Japanese people including Japanese-American citizens during World War II when the Japanese were seen as the enemy. I hope that the level of relative comfort most people feel towards Japanese people presently puts in perspective the irrational and disproportionate fear of Muslims and Latinos that is going on now.
I understand that immigration is a complex issue, but a basic belief in the humanity and dignity of all people is not that complicated and should be what is paramount in deciding our policies around both immigration and tourism.
The fear around immigration is not based on fact. Crime rates are lower for immigrants than they are for native-born citizens. – Shepard Fairey