Senate candidate Julia Salazar, 27, seeks to unseat eight-term incumbent Sen. Martin Dilan in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary. A self-proclaimed democratic socialist from Brooklyn riding the wave of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s June congressional district win, her political bio meets all the standard current-year “progressive” bullet points. A former anti-abortion republican from a conservative family, her policy ideas include free tuition for all at The City University of NY and The State University of NY, unrestricted access to abortion on demand as an aspect of universal state-healthcare for both citizens and undocumented people, and to make NY a sanctuary state and end any and all compliance with ICE, just to name a few. All of this by itself would make her a darling to the identity-politics/socialist-friendly left. But she turned it up to 11 by also claiming the title of being a “proud Columbian immigrant.” As if she was created in a left-wing lab, her bio seemed too good to be true for the anti-Trump, anti-capitalist, “democratic socialism is different than real socialism” left. That’s because according to new reports, it is.
In reality, Salazar grew up in a middle class-household in Florida and her mother and brother were also both born and raised in the United States. While her father was born in Colombia but was a naturalized citizen before Salazar was ever born. While Salazar claims she was raised in her early years in both Colombia and Florida, her brother, Alex, gave a different story to City & State. He told the political media outlet the family only made a few brief trips to Colombia. In the midst of the controversy, Salazar has blamed this blow to her honesty on misquotes and lack of context in this statement from her website. She’s also edited her website to say “the proud daughter of an immigrant father” instead of “a proud immigrant.” She brought up an interview with Emma Whitford of the Village Voice from May addressing this topic directly where she said “No I—sorry, yeah I was born in Miami but it’s kind of complicated. Basically my parents were living in Columbia at the time but my Mom was a flight attendant, when my parents met so they were sort of transient when my brother and I were really young. So we lived in Columbia and then my mom raised my brother and I in South Florida.”
All a big misunderstanding by the xenophobic right, right? Well, not quite. Over the summer, Salazar repeatedly implied that she herself was an immigrant. During a July 3 event with political podcast Chapo Trap House, she was asked to explain her biography. “My family immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia when I was a little kid,” she said. The Bushwick Daily, which covered the event, then identified her as Colombian-born. At a fundraiser around the same time, she used similar language. “I immigrated to this country with my family when I was very little. In Columbia, my mom raised me as a single mother. She didn’t have a college degree…” she can be heard saying in a video taken at the event. She was born in Miami, but traveled between Colombia and the U.S. as a child, she said later. At the time she was born, she said in a statement in response to the allegations, “my parents had been living in Colombia, where my father was born and immigrated from, before settling permanently in Florida when I was still a small child.”
Salazar has also been criticized by various Jewish media outlets for identifying herself as a Jew via blood on her father’s side. The Tablet reported that Salazar once even claimed Jewish ancestry on her mother’s side. However, her brother Alex told The Tablet last week that “nobody in our immediate family” is Jewish – including their parents. Meanwhile, the mother, Christine Salazar, has said Julia was baptized a Catholic.
“Julia Salazar was a Florida Republican until she parachuted into Bushwick last year to run,” said Bob Liff, a spokesman for Dilan’s campaign. “…Voters don’t judge candidates on whether they are immigrants — or even any of the other misrepresentations and outright lies she has claimed as part of her background — but they do care about the truth.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has stood by her politically mutual colleague by expressing her support for her policies without referencing the current controversy of Salazar’s alleged fabricated biography.