McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Before thousands of teachers, administrators, parents and community leaders, the nephew of Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez gave a rousing keynote speech Thursday touting his border hometown of McAllen.
“A lot of people when they think of McAllen, they don’t know us,” said 17-year-old Diego Rodriguez, who urged the world not to view McAllen through just an immigration lens. The McAllen High School senior spoke at a Welcome Back General Assembly of McAllen ISD on Thursday at the McAllen Convention Center in South Texas.
“They don’t know our culture, our values. They just don’t know us. That means they have to count on the news to tell them what’s going on down here. So for the best part of three years, they have seen flooding, they’ve seen drug problems, they’ve seen a debate over the wall,” he said. “And the seemingly endless immigration crisis. For some, this is the face of McAllen. But that’s not our story.”
Diego Rodriguez, who in March won a Best Actor award from the school district, told Border Report after the speech that he welcomed the platform to get a message out to those who think McAllen is a dangerous place because of the immigration surge that began in 2014.
While touring colleges in Florida this past month, he said he was asked by several people about border crime and immigration when they found out where he lives.
“That’s only a part of us. It’s not what we’re all about. We’re not about the immigration crisis or the border wall. We have a lot of amazing things going on down here. So the message I wanted to portray throughout my speech was there are amazing things happening here,” he said.
“Yes there is stuff going on down here but that’s not the one thing people should be focused on. They should know there’s a people here, there’s a culture here and we’re all amazing and we’re all dreamers.”
Rodriguez’s parents were in the audience. His father is the older brother of Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez, who wrote and directed the 1995 hit “Desperado,” starring Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, and went on to complete a number of other films with Hayek. He has done several projects with Quentin Tarantino including “From Dusk Till Dawn,” and is famous for the “Spy Kids” films that began in 2001.