This week we went to a couple of high-security prisons in Salinas, as some of my classmates have already narrated and shared their experiences about. I want to tell my experience as a Latina visitor in Salinas, where more than 70% of the population is Latina and what going to meetings with authorities and into the penal system was like to me.
Just the trip to Salinas Valley getting there was striking. Looking at the window you could see the beautiful green fields (agriculture, by the way, is the main economic activity of the area) and the people working the soil. I will not talk about labour conditions in the fields or immigrant economy – that is very well documented.
Happens that just seeing the workers made me think of all stories of immigrants I know, all the stories of people who get deported and who come back, regardless of the dangers and problems they know they might face here. Being in the prisons, speaking with them and just catching each other’s eyes and finding we have a lot in common even if we have such different backgrounds and lives was very shocking.