The latest installment in the Drop the I-Word campaign’s “I Am…” storytelling project comes from Diana Corcorran. Our perspective at Drop the I-Word is that the dehumanization of immigrants impacts everyone and we must all take part in protecting human dignity. Corcorran’s testimony shows us that even being witness to the tragedy and injustice of systematic family separation can be traumatic. While the Obama Administration continues to brag about record-breaking deportations, we can only imagine how the families and especially the children who have lived through raids, detention and separation have been affected. Knowing what we know, we can’t turn back. It’s up to all of us to answer Diana’s question: “What kind of country is this?”
For the “I Am…” storytelling project, people from all walks of life relate experiences, demand respect and reject criminalizing language for immigrants. Stories are gathered in collaboration with our campaign partners. We are grateful to the Alliance for a Just Society for connecting us with Corcorran.
My name is Diana Corcorran. I am a mother of eight and a grandmother of two. My family and I live in Downey, Idaho, a small, predominantly white community in the southeast of the state. Preston, a town 26 miles from Downey, has a large Latino farm worker community. I think people are compassionate and if there was more education and understanding people would feel differently about immigration and that is why I tell our story.
I have seen the broken immigration system in my own backyard. A few years ago, there was a raid at the JBS Swift slaughterhouse where my husband works. So many people were traumatized by this raid. Many parents were detained, some hid and got away. The picture in my head that I won’t forget is that of the children standing by their parents’ cars as night fell, not sure where to go. What kind of country is this?
I believe that criminalizing people by labeling them “illegal” enables us as a society to allow these raids to happen. This is not fair. It should stop. The i-word is a big part of the problem with trying to talk about the broken immigration system. People don’t want to talk about it because the word “illegal” stops the conversation. People just say, “There is nothing to talk about; it’s just illegal and wrong,” without acknowledging the people affected.
Most white people in my community use the word “illegal” when they speak about undocumented immigrants. I think “illegal” is an awful word to call a person. It criminalizes hard working people and entire communities in our society. In our town, everyone was affected by the raids. It greatly affected the entire Latino community in the area and it also had a huge influence on my husband. The raid changed the amount of work he had to do, but more importantly it changed his views on immigration. Before the raid he had the “illegal” mind set about immigration and undocumented workers, but when he saw what happened to his co-workers and peers after the raid, his entire views on immigration changed. They found men hiding in the plant days later and he was moved by the injustice he saw. He was very hurt and upset by what happened to his coworkers because they were not criminals but honest working people trying to support their families, just like him. He thinks criminals should be arrested, not people working and trying to help their families.
People come to this country to support their families. If more people knew the truth about raids it would touch a lot of people and change their views on the broken immigration system. They should know about all the children left behind with no one to pick them up at school. That is the reality of raids and deportations. As a mother, I know that I would do anything to provide for my children and keep them safe and healthy. This is not criminal, it is human.