Rev. Alejandro Solalinde, a Mexican Catholic priest, has received support from Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Push Coalition for a "Caravan of Hope" that will tour the U.S. in the coming months to demand reform of American immigration law. During a visit to the Rainbow Push headquarters on March 10, the priest was surprised by the "strong support" expressed by members of the African-American community for the rights of Central American immigrants. "For me it was a surprise, and a historical response to our tragedy," said Rev. Solalinde. "The African-American community, with whom we had not had much contact, is well informed and familiar with our drama."
According to the Fides news service, Rev. Solalinde also informed the Coalition about the various demonstrations against violence he has organized. The Caravan of Hope which will begin on April 29 in San Diego CA and visit several cities, including Chicago on May 3 and 4, before concluding in Washington on May 31.
The priest also met with representatives of Chicago's Latino community, as well as representatives of the World Parliament of Religions. "It was a meeting of different environments, many of whom did not know our experience and the suffering of immigrants," said Rev. Solalinde.
Rev. Solalinde has long been an advocate of the human rights of Central American migrants passing through Mexico. He is the coordinator of the Pastoral of Human Mobility for Mexico’s South Pacific Region and founder of Hermanos en el Camino migrant shelter in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. This came in response to the hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing poverty and violence in the Central American isthmus, who rode on Mexican railway freight cars headed to the U.S. Human rights organizations and churches have denounced the violence and mistreatment meted out to Central American migrants by Mexican authorities and criminals. In some instances, scores of these migrants have been murdered and their bodies dumped on the Mexican side of the border shared with the U.S. Women and children are frequently raped by criminal gangs on their way north. In 2010, it is estimated that 12,000 migrants were abducted by criminal gangs in Mexico. Some of these never made it to the families and jobs they sought in the U.S.
Currently, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency estimate that there are 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, most of whom are of Latin American origin.