Women We Love 2022: Mayra Hidalgo Salazar

Mayra Hidalgo Salazar

courtesy Mayra Hidalgo Salazar

Originally from Costa Rica, Mayra Hidalgo Salazar is among the first generation of undocumented youth who publicly shared their stories in order to effect positive immigration reform. “Organizing quite literally saved my life at 17 years old, rerouted me, and helped me heal from the heartbreak of having my life plans deferred indefinitely because of my undocumented status,” Hidalgo Salazar tells GO. As a senior in high school navigating the challenges of being an undocumented queer lesbian in Florida, she was invited to participate in the Florida Immigration Coalition convening and served as the Campaign Manager for the Trail of Dreams, which was a driving force in the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. These experiences laid the foundation for her commitment to organizing and advocating for queer, immigrant youth of color. Hidalgo Salazar’s courage to publicly share her story came with obstacles, and at times, fears for her safety and that of her family. “But it also meant I was a part of a movement of undocumented people creating our self-determination, sharing our stories on our own terms, and driving the policy change we needed to live our lives with dignity,” she says. She found strength and support from her community and queer elders who recognized her intrinsic power. “The gift of community in the face of adversity is one of the many gifts organizing gave me.” Hidalgo Salazar is a nationally-recognized expert on immigration issues, and has appeared in numerous publications, including Forbes and The Advocate. She currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force. –LC

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