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Brian Luke Community Blogger, WGRZ-TV

Friday, October 21, 2011

Former Arizona Governor Castro Speaks at CBP Hispanic Heritage Event

Nogales, AZ. — Former Arizona Governor Raul Castro has had a distinguished lifetime lasting more than 95 years. Not only has he served as the Grand Canyon State’s only Hispanic governor, but he has also served as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Bolivia and Argentina. Speaking Oct. 5, at the Tucson Field Office’s Diversity and Inclusion Committees Hispanic Heritage Event, held at the Dennis DeConcini Port in Nogales, Castro talked of migrating from Mexico at a very young age with his parents and 11 siblings to the small southeastern Arizona town of Pirtleville, just west of Douglas. As a young Mexican boy, he said he remembers seeing his white classmates riding past him to school, while he and his Hispanic friends had to walk. “I was also faced with numerous educational difficulties because of my race,” he said. “I used those challenges to motivate me to work harder.” Castro said also he was grateful for a few of his teachers who encouraged him; especially Eileen Wright, who encouraged him to work hard and make something of his life. By the time Castro reached high school, he turned his young aggression into a position as quarterback for the Douglas High School Bulldogs. He also ran track and used a new found interest in journalism to become editor of the school newspaper, The Border Bulldog. After high school he was recruited by Arizona Teachers College in Flagstaff, now known as Northern Arizona University, to continue his football career. Castro had to hitchhike to college at the other end of the state, but he said, “It was worth it.” While college would extend his educational opportunities, he also took up boxing and went four years as an undefeated champ. After graduating, Castro said it was impossible to find a job in his chosen profession as a teacher, due to his nationality, so he used his boxing skills to pay the bills as a prize-fighter along the East Coast. As time past, Castro eventually became a lawyer; a career that afforded him with more than 50 years of experiences. During that time, he progressed from private practice to Pima County Attorney and eventually became a Pima County Superior Court judge specializing in immigration and international law. The former governor told the story of when he and his wife Patricia owned a commercial pony-breeding business on Tucson’s north side. “My wife had been on me for some time to paint the fence that lined a busy road next to our farm. So, one Saturday morning I put my boots on, grabbed my hat and a paint bucket, and started to paint.” He said he was going about his business when some federal agents pulled up and asked him where he was born. I answered “Cananea, Mexico.” They then wanted to know who I worked for. I thought about it for a second and then, as any good husband would say, I told them my wife’s name. The agents apparently thought I was being sarcastic until another agent drove up and said, ‘Hello Judge Castro!’ I was able to finish painting after that.” When Castro talks about Mexico today, he says things are “… so close, yet so far.” When he hears someone say that the Mexican constitution allows for its’ citizens to travel freely and we can’t keep our people from leaving, he says the reply is easy. “Freedom to travel does not mean digging tunnels or jumping the border fence. If they do so, they should be prosecuted.” The 14th governor of Arizona and his wife still call Arizona home. They are long-time residents of Nogales, Ariz., and live about 50 yards from the border fence. In his 2009 biography “Adversity is My Angel”, Castro wrote, “Today it’s not about where you were born, but where is your citizenship.” He says Nogales is a safe community, but adds, “It’s important to remember it is a gateway into the greatest country in the world.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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