Philanthropist and photojournalist Saul Flores discusses the dangerous journey immigrants take to reach the U.S.

Illustrates hardships through photos and anecdotes in his presentation “Walk of the Immigrants”


Student Health Clinical Therapist Diana Hernandez (left) and Saul Flores (center) answer questions after finishing his presentation in the MS building at City College. Photo by Antonio Contreras/City Times Media

Antonio Contreras, Multimedia Journalist

San Diego City College students and faculty gathered in the Educational Center on Oct. 20 to hear guest speaker Saul Flores discuss his life and the dangerous journey of immigrants traveling to the United States.

The event was sponsored by the World Cultures Program, Dreamer Resource Center and  Student Health

In his presentation, “The Walk of the Immigrants,” Flores used powerful storytelling and photographs to share his experience of immigrating to the U.S.

Flores, who grew up in New York City, talked about his life and shared with the audience a heartfelt story about his parents who are undocumented immigrants. 

As a child, Flores remembers both parents working a lot and often going to work with his mother due to a lack of childcare.

Going to work with his mother, Flores mentioned, reminded him of the gratitude he feels for the sacrifices she made every day for him and his sister. 

Also, Flores recalled how the image of his mother with bleach, cleaning someone else’s home, made him feel loved because he realized how hard she worked to keep their family fed.

“I felt being loved, not being hungry,” Flores said. 

While sharing his story, during a brief pause, Flores told the audience to think of a moment when someone they cared for or loved sacrificed something for them. Then he asked anyone in the audience to share their story. 

One attendee shared the story of his parents giving up the chance to get a higher education to help raise him and his other siblings.  

“I want you to reflect on that, what it means to you now and why it’s important to you,” Flores said. 

Saul Flores (left) presenting an image of his trip to his mother’s hometown school in Mexico to the audience
Saul Flores (left) presents an image of his trip to his mother’s hometown school in Mexico to the audience at the MS building. Photo by Antonio Contreras/City Times Media

When visiting his mother’s hometown, Flores discovered a cinderblock elementary school withering away among beautiful fields of sugarcane and was struck by the contrast of charm and severe poverty he felt in the six-classroom building. 

Flores shocked the audience while recounting his journey of 5,328 miles through ten countries and nine border crossings, documenting how grueling and dangerous the journey of immigrating to the United States can be. 

Coming into contact with a leaf covered in poison dart frog secretions, which Flores said could have killed him, was one of many natural hazards he faced in addition to numerous man-made ones. 

The message that Flores wants everyone to understand is how migration is complex and difficult for so many families.

“I would say that the whole point of the project was to help people understand how complex migration is and how difficult it is for so many families coming into the United States,” Flores said. “I think it’s really angering, you know, because they talk about our families and we’re kind of like disposable items.”

Attendees were visibly moved, many with tears in their eyes, after hearing Flores’ story that some were given tissues by event organizers before breaking into a round of applause.

“I liked it a lot,” City student Jose Segura said. “His story is very interesting and I feel some of us can relate. The images were very powerful and were very moving.”

The event not only moved attendees to tears but also created an environment to make meaningful connections. 

“I think looking around the room, I definitely saw some students connecting and I saw a few students tearing up, laughing and supporting each other,” Student Health clinical therapist Diana Hernandez said. “I think that what he shared was something that many either have experienced or seen in their life.”

For more information on Saul Flores and his projects, visit his website here.