Cyclist Champions Immigrants on NY-to-Mexico Ride

PHOTO: This is the route that Armando Rosales will take from New York to Saltillo
This is the route that Armando Rosales will take from New York to Saltillo Mexico.

Armando Rosales is making a run for the border. Well, a bike ride, actually: The amateur cyclist is pedaling from New York to Mexico to encourage Latino communities in the U.S. to get involved in the debate over immigration reform.

The unusual 2,200-mile journey will take Rosales from New York City to his Mexican hometown of Saltillo. That may sound like a lot, but Rosales -- a photographer and mountain guide -- has the experience, and a mission. Last year, he pedaled from Denver to Saltillo, an 1,100-mile trip.

"I've met lots of immigrants who have many problems here [in the US], people who work too much, and I think that they ought to be treated more fairly," Rosales told the news site

"Everyone thinks immigration reform is good, but we must analyze each point. For example, the time [immigrants] must wait to become citizens is very long," Rosales added in an interview with the AP.

Rosales said that his New York-to-Mexico trip initially had no political motive. That changed last week, after he flew to the Big Apple, and met members of the Tepeyac Association, a group that provides cultural and human-rights support to Mexican immigrants in New York.

Tepeyac suggested that Rosales could use his trip to spark discussions on immigration reform. Now, the 31-year-old cyclist will make several stops along his route, in order to speak to immigrants about the proposals Congress is currently discussing. He will also use his newly acquired fame to back voter-registration campaigns in Latino communities.

But this isn't just a political journey. Rosales says on his Facebook page that the trip itself is an "epic" adventure in which he must fight against crushing heat and sudden storms as he makes his way across the U.S.

It's also full of quirky encounters with strangers, who sometimes feel inspired by Rosales' journey.

"A Korean girl waved at me several times," Rosales wrote in one of his most recent updates from the road. He's currently somewhere between New York and Philadelphia. "We talked for about 10 minutes, and finally she said goodbye, saying, 'I love what you're doing, please let me support your project.' She gave me 20 bucks."

"It seems that this bike touring thing has its supporters," Rosales concluded.

To follow updates of Rosales' trip, you can check out his Facebook page.