Distinguished New York City Gallerist and Curator Denied Entry into US

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Photograph of Juan Garcia Mosqueda, founder and owner of Chamber Gallery in Chelsea, New York. Courtesy Chambernyc on Instagram.

Photograph of Juan Garcia Mosqueda, founder and owner of Chamber Gallery in Chelsea, New York. Courtesy Chambernyc/Instagram.


When Chamber, the ever-innovative Chelsea design gallery, opens its doors for tonight’s new exhibition, its owner and founder Juan Garcia Mosqueda will not be able to attend. On February 24, the Argentina-born gallerist was unexpectedly denied entry into the United States by border control. Mosqueda, who has lived in the United States for a decade, was returning to New York from Buenos Aires when he was detained and held for fourteen hours, before being sent back to Argentina. In a letter, he describes the excruciating 36-hour experience as “dehumanizing and degrading every step of the way,” in which he was denied legal counsel, food, and privacy.

This comes on the heels of President Trump’s controversial travel ban, limiting entry into the US by non-American citizens, and blocking people, from seven primarily Muslim countries—including Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Iran, Sudan, and Yemen—from entering the country.

Chambers Gallery is known for its boundary-defying and diverse work that supports and promotes a large swathe of American and international artists and curators. As Mosqueda writes, “Although I am not an American citizen, Chamber is an American product that I hope adds to the cultural landscape of the country.”

In the letter below, Mosqueda details the harrowing experience.

The Visible Wall

Dear Friends,

This past Friday, February 24, 2017, I was denied entry
into the United States—the nation where I have been
legally residing for the past ten years. The procedure
was dehumanizing and degrading every step of the
way. After being escorted to the secondary inspection
premises, I was brought down for interrogation where
I was questioned under oath and threatened with the
possibility of being barred from entering the country for
five years. The border patrol officer denied me the right
to legal counseling, arrogantly claiming that lawyers had
no jurisdiction at the borders. Shortly after my sworn
statement was delivered to the chief officer in charge,
they informed me that I was not permitted to come into
the country and, therefore, would be forced onto the
return flight to Buenos Aires later that evening. During
the following fourteen excruciatingly painful hours, I was
prohibited from the use of any means of communication
and had no access to any of my belongings, which were
ferociously examined without any warrant whatsoever. I
was deprived of food. I was frisked three times in order
to go to the bathroom, where I had no privacy and was
under the constant surveillance of an officer. Finally,
I was escorted by two armed officers directly onto the
plane and denied my documents until I reached my
destination, Buenos Aires.

This thirty-six hour nightmare is nothing but clear
evidence of a deeply flawed immigration system in the
United States, carried out by an administration that is
more interested in expelling people than admitting them.
I was educated in America, worked at prestigious design
entities, and, now, as you all know, own a gallery which
employs Americans and non-Americans alike. Chamber
supports architecture and design studios in the United
States and abroad. I own several properties in New
York and have collaborated in numerous projects with
architects, contractors, and construction workers to
bring to life projects around the city. We have created
a network within the creative industries that span all
disciplines and media that help individuals sustain their
practices and do what they love. We proudly carry the
New York flag to every fair that we do and every project
we initiate across the globe. We self-publish books
printed in the United States. And, needless to say, we pay
considerable federal and state taxes that help fund many
of the societal aspects that fuel the American engine.

Although I am not an American citizen, Chamber is
an American product that I hope adds to the cultural
landscape of the country. The gallery was conceived in
alignment with the same idea of inclusion that was found
in the streets of the Lower East Side (where I live and
was denied access to) not so long ago: a melting pot
of all nationalities and religions, importing ideas from
abroad to a culturally embracing metropolis. We have
worked with over 200 artists and designers, from Tokyo
to Los Angeles, from Amsterdam to Santiago, in our less
than three years of existence and rely heavily on social
mobility to get our message across and display the works
that we want to show.

To my American friends, I urge you to contact your
congressmen and push for immigration reform. Push
for a system that does not alienate, intimidate, and bully
foreigners but that, on the contrary, welcomes and
encourages citizens from all countries to want to keep
investing in and contributing to your wonderful country.
This coming Thursday, I will not be able to celebrate the
opening of our newest show, Domestic Appeal, which
my team and I worked hard to conceive, and will not be
able to meet some of the incredible participants that are
traveling to the United States to take pride in displaying
their creations in one of the most culturally relevant cities
on the planet.

Please come see it, have a glass of wine, and enjoy it on
my behalf!

Hope to see you all very soon,
Juan Garcia Mosqueda,
Buenos Aires, Argentina