Smithsonian Sparks

The monarch butterfly and a Dreamer’s graduation attire

April 29, 2022

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Person-sized monarch butterfly wings with a graduation cap and colorfully striped stole

Graduation cap and stole worn by Jairo Jaime, 2019, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History collection

Jairo Javier Morales wore this cap and stole when he graduated from Ripon College in Wisconsin. He is one of over 3 million Dreamers: undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Monarch butterflies—which travel north across borders to survive each year—have become a symbol for many undocumented people living in America.

As a child, Morales and his family moved from Mexico to Chicago as undocumented immigrants. The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allowed Morales to work and attend college without fear of deportation, but there is no pathway to citizenship available for him.

These pieces are in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History collection.

They are also included in the National Museum of the American Latino’s first exhibition, which is online now. “¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States” features stories from the exhibition that will open this summer in the Molina Family Latino Gallery at the National Museum of American History. Visit online to learn more about Latino identity, immigration, historical legacies, and how Latinas and Latinos have shaped the nation. Explore the Latino Museum’s official museum website at latino.si.edu to stay up to date on plans for museum.