When Reagan did the amnesty, I felt a big sense of relief.: Becoming Minnesotan

Lourdez Schwab. Minnesota Historical Society, Oral History Office files.
  • Name - Lourdez Ortega Schwab
  • Age at interview - 31
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - Second Generation American
  • Date of Interview - 05.10.2009
  • Pedro and Clementina Ortega, Lourdez Schwab's parents, Willmar, Minnesota(?).

    The Journey

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    Essential Question

    Coming to America: What did coming to America symbolize for this person?

    The Journey: How did this person get to the U.S.?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Many of the Latinos who arrived in Minnesota through the mid-Twentieth Century were U.S. citizens, having been born in the United States. Others came from Mexico through special temporary immigration programs for migrant workers. Others came to the U.S. illegally, without permission to enter or work. Undocumented Mexican immigrants were singled out by local, state, and federal authorities as a drain on society, especially during the Depression. Many Mexicans were rounded up and deported to Mexico in the 1930s and again in the 1950s. Some of those deported were U.S. citizens or immigrants who could have qualified for citizenship.

    To learn more about Latino history and culture, visit our Latino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Lourdez Schwab 2
    1:37 Minutes | 1.56Mb


    Narrator: Lourdez Schwab (LS)

    LS: My mom is from Durango and my dad is from Chihuahua. So, my dad was actually working for my mom’s dad, my grandfather. Anyway, my dad worked for him and that’s how he met my mom. He’s thirteen years older than my mom. So, they eloped and they moved to the U.S. And they came to the U.S. illegally at that time. And they were just like right on the border, in El Paso. My parents were at that time deported constantly. There were times where my mom would come to El Paso to work with her visa, and she’d nannied and she housekeeper, whatever. You name it. Those kinds of jobs. And my dad just kind of went back and forth, whatever odd jobs he could do.

    So in ’87, ’86 or ’87, when Reagan did the amnesty, that’s when I remember feeling like a big sense of relief. I didn’t quite understand what was going on, but I knew there was a relief in my household. Cause I remember going to their appointments, their immigration, to see an attorney. I remember just feeing that relief, from my family. And when we moved to Minnesota they got their U.S. citizenship status, so they became U.S. citizens here in St. Paul. It was a pretty big deal for my parents and my brother.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun: A general pardon by an authority to a large number of people for past offenses.


    Noun:  1. A person that is a legally recognized as a member of a state or country, with associated rights and obligations.  2. A person that is a legally recognized resident of a city or town.  3. A resident of any particular place to which the subject feels to belong.


    Noun:  The status of being legally recognized by a country as one of its citizens.


    Verb: To force a person who is not a citizen to leave a country. (deports, deported, deporting)


    Verb: To run away from home with a lover for the purpose of getting married. (elopes, eloping, eloped)


    Noun:  A permit to enter and leave a country, normally issued by the authorities of the country to be visited.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 2176