Las Voces del Lowcountry

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Diana Salazar is a Mexican-American born in Homestead, Florida. Her father and grandfather worked as labor contractors, supplying immigrant workers to farmers on the Eastern Seaboard and in Florida. As a child, Diana witnessed an immigration raid on a Maryland labor camp. Though she knew she was not at risk of being deported, the events left a deep impression upon her.

Selection from interview with Diana Salazar by Kerry Taylor, 13 June 2013, courtesy of The Citadel Oral History ProgramLowcountry Digital Library. Clip from original interview minutes 5:16-11:05. To access the full oral history and transcript, click here.


Diana Salazar: I must have been between twelve and fourteen also. We went to Maryland, and in Maryland, it was so big. The camp was so big. I don’t know, I’m going to guestimate, it could have been at least five hundred people that could live in that camp, and they had a big baseball field. One morning, I could hear—I got up—everybody got up, and I remember I could hear everybody just screaming, “Go, go, run, run, La Migra.” I’ll never forget that. And I was so young. And I look out the window. I’ll never forget, I looked out the window there was buses and buses, big buses, like school buses, and they were lime green. And that was—that was the first time I knew what La Migra was, Immigration. And it was a culture shock because I was an American. I wasn’t running, but you could see people running. They called those labor camps. And it was a shock. I haven’t talked about this in a long time. I was a little girl, fourteen, twelve. And my aunt—my Aunt Amanda was a US citizen. We have American names by the way, because we’re Chicanas. When you’re born in this country, we have American names, too. It’s not always Maria, Guadalupe, Susana. For example, my Aunt Amanda had a Mexican undocumented boyfriend, and he was running, and he was saved because he hid in the trees like a monkey, no joke, no joke. But they took a lot of people then. The sad part about it, these people picked tomatoes or cucumbers back then, but they were almost done, so they had done the work for Maryland, and then they came and swept husbands and wives, took away these—separated families. That’s the sad part. It’s been going on for years.

Kerry Taylor: Do you remember feeling fear yourself?

DS: I was nervous, I was scared, I was like, “What’s going on?” I’m an American, but I’m not running. When you’re brought in this culture, you’re not brought, maybe now it’s different, but back then. I don’t remember my parents talking about La Migración. But now, even my children know about it because my children go to marches that I actually do myself. And my son, who is eleven now, but wrote when he was nine, about—he wants to become our president to change the world and let undocumenteds be freed because they’re human just like us, and that’s what God created. But that’s a different story.