Putting a Face on Immigration

Hugo Castro

Hugo Castro

Advocacy and Action

Immigrant-rights activists Hugo Castro and Jose Luis Hernandez Cruz will discuss their work with undocumented and disabled immigrants during a discussion at Dickinson titled “Border Angels and AMIREDIS: The Sad Face of Undocumented Immigration.” It will be held Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. in the Stern Center Great Room.

Many Central American immigrants ride on the tops of freight trains, colloquially known as “La Bestia,” or “the beast,” to shorten their trips to the U.S. According to the Migration Policy Institute, physical dangers associated with this method of travel can range from limb amputation to death.

Hernandez Cruz is all too familiar with the risks. On an attempt to reach the U.S. in 2005, he fell beneath the wheels of “La Bestia” and lost his right arm, right leg and part of his left hand. Cruz is now the spokesperson and leader of AMIREDIS, the Association of Returned Migrants with Disabilities. In 2016, Cruz and AMIREDIS coordinated the Caravan of the Mutilated, in which disabled immigrants traveled the migrant trail to illuminate the dangers migrants face. They spoke with former President Barack Obama about these perils. After a four-month detainment in Texas, Cruz sought asylum in the U.S. and has continued to speak out about the risks facing migrants.

Since 2009, Castro has been a member of Border Angels, an organization that campaigns against border patrol brutality and Mexican police oppression toward deportees in the Mexican border cities of Mexicali and Tijuana. Castro recently developed a network of immigrant rights activists and shelters in the Mexican state of Baja California. He works to support 18 shelters by providing food and construction material.

The event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the departments of Spanish & Portuguese; American studies; and Latin American, Latino & Caribbean studies.

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Published February 7, 2017