Hispanic hero: Astronaut Jose Hernandez says legalize undocumented immigrants

Today marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. But writing about the Hispanic community is something I do all year round.

But this month I plan to blog about some people I call Hispanic heroes. And the first one I want to tell you about is NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez.

Hernandez isn't the first Hispanic to go into space. He is the first to Twitter bilingually from space.


Astronaut Jose Hernandez

But Hernandez said something recently that moved me about his view of Earth from space.

"What surprised me is when I saw the world as one. There were no borders. You couldn't distinguish between the United States and Mexico," Hernandez told the Mexican television network Televisa.

And he also called for the legalization of all undocumented immigrants, as it was reported in a story by the Associated Press.

"The American economy needs them," said Hernandez, 47. "I believe it's only fair to find a way to legalize them and give them an opportunity to work openly, so they can also retire in a traditional U.S. system."
Now Hernandez was born in California to parents who came to the United States from Mexico illegally. He worked the fields with his parents picking cucumbers, sugar beets and tomatoes.
He parents eventually became U.S. citizens and worked to make sure their son achieved an education.

He was inspired to become an astronaut while hoeing a row of sugar beets and listening to  a radio report about Hispanic astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz, who is Costa Rican.

"I was already interested in science and engineering," Hernandez wrote on his Web site, "but that was the moment I said, 'I want to fly into space.' And that's something I've been striving for each day since then."

Hernandez recently completed a two-week mission to the international space station. Also on board was another Latino astronaut Danny Olivas.

These astronauts show us that Latinos go anywhere even outer space.

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