Montoya’s faceless and bleeding brown figure is caught within the spikes of barbed wire and assumes the posture of the crucified Christ, while also evoking the central victim in Francisco de Goya’s "Third of May 1808 in Madrid" (1814). These references humanize the plight of undocumented immigrants in the 1980s, many of whom were fleeing civil wars in Central America that had intensified with U.S. intervention. Montoya created this print during his years of activism leading up to the passage of the U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which secured various forms of temporary legal status for undocumented people.


  • Title: Undocumented
  • Creator: Malaquias Montoya
  • Date Created: 1980
  • Credit Line: Malaquias Montoya, Undocumented, 1980, signed 1981, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Frank K. Ribelin Endowment, 2015.29.2, © 1981, Malaquias Montoya
  • Medium: screenprint on paper

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