How do people from Douglas identify?
U.S. Census Bureau data from July, 2018 indicates that 73 percent of the population in Douglas is “Hispanic or Latino”. With a unique geographical position, and “bi-national” way of life, ethnic identity is perceived differently across the Latino community in Douglas. There is an abundance of first and second generation Mexican-Americans in Douglas, many of whom have immediate family members living “across the line” in Sonora, Mexico.
“I was born in Douglas, but I grew up living in Agua Prieta for most of my life,” said resident, Icela Serrano, 30. “I think of myself as Mexican, because that’s where my blood comes from.” Serrano has lived most of her adult life on the U.S. side of the border, and completed her education through the U.S. public school system. “There are times when I’ll say I’m Mexican-American, but that’s usually only when I’m in A.P. (Agua Prieta),” Serrano said. “I’m very grateful for being a U.S. citizen, but I feel equally as Mexican. I know that culturally, I’m very different from most Americans.”
Jennifer Skinner, 25, lived in Douglas through high school. Upon graduating she moved to Tucson, AZ to attend university, where she has lived ever since. “When I meet new people I tell them I’m from Douglas, it’s a small town on the US-Mexico border. Not much going on there but its beautiful,” said Skinner. With her family originating from the Arizona-Sonora region, she identifies as Latinx
Felix Soto, 79, was born in Douglas and spent most of his childhood living and attending school in Mexico. His parents immigrated from Sonora to live in Douglas when he was a preteen. “I am an American, I’m very proud to be American,” Soto said. “I identify first as an American, second as a Mexican-American.” Soto affirmed that he has never identified as ‘just Mexican’. “My friends and family who were born in Mexico, life was very different for them,” said Soto. “I grew up there, yes, but I still had all the benefits of being born in the United States.”
Jayda Teran, 11, was born in Washington State and moved to Douglas when she was 5-years-old. Her father was an immigrant from El Salvador, and her mother, Mexican-American, was born and raised in Douglas. “I tell people that I’m Mexican, just because it’s complicated to say what I fully am,” Teran said. “There are people at school who say I’m white-washed because I don’t speak Spanish, and even when I speak English I sound different.” Teran admitted that, at first, she was resentful of the fact that students and teachers would sometimes speak only Spanish at her school. “I just thought it wasn’t fair, because we’re in the United States. If you go to school anywhere else the teachers will just talk in English,” said Teran. “Now I think I’ve gotten better at Spanish, I can understand a lot of it. I feel more Mexican than when I first moved here.”