Although heterochromatin is enriched with repressive traits, it is also actively transcribed, giving rise to large amounts of non-coding RNAs. Although these RNAs are responsible for the formation and maintenance of heterochromatin, little is known about how their transcription is regulated. Here we show that the Snail1 transcription factor represses mouse pericentromeric transcription, acting through the H3K4 deaminase LOXL2. Since Snail1 plays a key role in the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), we analyzed the regulation of heterochromatin transcription in this process. At the onset of EMT, one of the major structural heterochromatin proteins, HP1α, is transiently released from heterochromatin foci in a Snail1/LOXL2–dependent manner, concomitantly with a down-regulation of major satellite transcription. Moreover, preventing the down-regulation of major satellite transcripts compromised the migratory and invasive behavior of mesenchymal cells. We propose that Snail1 regulates heterochromatin transcription through LOXL2, thus creating the favorable transcriptional state necessary for completing EMT.