“Consequences of the Raid,” written by Cecilia Salazar, is a story that takes place on a dairy farm in Northwest Iowa. It conveys the experiences of the farm’s hardworking immigrant employees like Claudia, her husband, Armando, and their family members and friends. It especially focuses on the horrifying day that the Immigration officer came to the farm to arrest and deport Felipe.
The story is true and is based on a raid that took place in Northwest Iowa in the winter of 2008. The names of the people it depicts have been changed. What follows is an adapted excerpt.
Mid-morning, Claudia rushes to the back gate in search of Felipe. She spots him pushing cows to the line for their round of milking. Waving her arms frantically, she yells, “La policía! La policía!” Felipe, a short muscular man of 28, had arrived in this small Iowa town hoping for a better life. A friend named Poncho informed him of a vacancy at this dairy farm. A steady job with a steady wage would be better than an unpredictable job working in construction, Felipe had thought.
Therefore, he and his wife and child traveled the three hundred miles through rolling green pastures to get to a nestled small town of a few hundred. It was a new start
Felipe’s American wife, Alice, had met when she was a waitress.
Felipe tried his best to order a hamburger and Alice tried her best to understand. They felt a deep connection that brought a needed closeness. The fact that they could not speak each other’s language did not stop them, and together they had a plan. They would work to save enough money to try to get Felipe a work permit. However, daily expenses postponed their hopes of Felipe being able to work legally. He worked with the hounding fear of being deported.
“La policía! La policía,” Claudia shouted again.
For a split second, Felipe stares at Claudia. In disbelief, he cannot understand his own language. He cannot understand that they have come to arrest him! Instantly, his eyes enlarge and his face, drained of its tan color, turns ghostly. Claudia wipes a running tear from her cheek and a hurtful smile warns him to be careful. “Cuidado!” Felipe takes off. His movements are quick and sharp, leaping and dodging the large black and white bodies. He disappears into the herd of cows.
Claudia pushes the last cow through the line and swings the gate closed. Taking the long way back to the office, Claudia spots a rubber boot being trampled by the animals’ enormous weight. No longer visible, it becomes part of the muck that lies beneath the crowded hooves.
That night, Felipe slowly made his way home, where worried Alice waited. Felipe’s cold body slumped as he pushed along, each step heavy with exhaustion. Nearing his apartment, he saw movement through the lit window. As he came closer, a shadow peered from the kitchen curtains. Terror shook Felipe as the door opened and someone grabbed hold of him. He realized that it was Alice when he heard her soft voice asking if it was him, “Eres tú, mi amor? Eres tú?” Tears streamed down Felipe’s face, leaving stripes as they cleaned the night’s filth. Undressing in the bathroom, he was aware of the strong stench of manure—he scrubbed hard as the hot water beat against his frigid body. It took only one hour for him to wash up, load the vehicle, and leave. The sun rose and brightened the bare fields with deep colors. Felipe looked through the rearview mirror and silently said goodbye, “Adios.”
"Consequences of the Raid" was originally written for and published by the Hispanic Story Project. This broadcast was edited from the original text by Lorenzo Sandoval with permission from the Iowa Writing Project and is one of a four part series made in collaboration with One Book One Siouxland.