On his 96th birthday, Mexican-born Raúl H. Castro was stopped in Tucson, Arizona by border patrol agents. Not only was he a U.S. citizen, but also Arizona’s former governor.
Born in a town 30 miles south of Arizona, Raúl’s family immigrated to the U.S. when he was 10 years old. The Castro family endured poverty and discrimination in Arizona. Raúl got a college degree in education, but couldn’t get hired as a teacher because of his Latino heritage.
So he worked odd jobs across the country before moving back to Tucson, going to law school and eventually becoming a Superior Court Judge. President Lyndon Johnson then asked him to be U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador and later Bolivia.
After returning to Arizona, Castro ran for governor and won in 1974, becoming the first and only Latino to do so. He left his post to be ambassador to Argentina, and spent his retirement talking with students about education and public service.
Today, Arizona’s population is 30% Latino. But the state’s harsh immigration enforcement laws still discriminate against immigrants like Raúl. We’re proud of Raúl’s achievements, but we also have a long way to go.