Mexican Cyclist Calls Attention To Asylum Seekers

By Mónica Ortiz Uribe
October 27, 2013
Monica Ortiz Uribe
Carlos Gutierrez will ride his bike from El Paso to Austin, Texas on a pair of prosthetic legs.

Starting Monday a Mexican bicyclist will embark on a 700 mile ride to call attention to the plight of Mexican asylum seekers in the United States. He's making the journey on a pair prosthetic legs.

Carlos Gutierrez, 35, claims his legs were hacked off by criminals in Mexico when he could no longer afford to pay an extortion fee on his business. He sold concessions at major sporting events and concerts in his home state of Chihuahua.

Now Gutierrez lives in El Paso where he's hoping the federal government will grant him asylum. His attorney, Carlos Spector, said it won't be easy.

"Less than 2 percent of all Mexican asylum applicants are granted asylum and it's getting more and more difficult," Spector said.

Drug violence south in Mexico has resulted in a steep increase in the number of asylum seekers to the United States. 

Gutierrez has been training hard for a two week bike ride from El Paso to Austin. His campaign is called Pedaling for Justice and supported by a network of immigrant advocate groups. Given the loss of his legs, Gutierrez says the experience so far has been therapeutic.

"It doesn't matter the blow you're dealt," he said. "The important thing is to pick yourself back up and go forward with your life."

Carlos Gutierrez