How This Doctor and Attorney Became A Champion of Immigrant Rights

“Human rights is a beautiful intersection of medicine, public health and law.”

By Joy DiazOctober 6, 2016 10:14 am,

The issue of immigration has permeated the national stage, bringing all eyes to our southern borders – an issue that hits home for many Texans. But for one Austin-based immigrant, the debate goes far beyond border control and burrows more deeply into the greater fight for social justice.

Dr. Alejandro Moreno is an assistant dean at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School. He also is a practicing attorney for immigration and human rights law. This month, American Gateways is recognizing him for his championing of the dignity and social justice of immigrants, refugees and victims of torture.

Here’s Moreno’s story, in his own words:

I was born and raised in Colombia, in Medellín. I come from a large family of my parents and eight siblings. I am the youngest. I was the last one to leave after I finished medical school.

I think growing up in Colombia during the [1970s] and 80s probably shaped my interest in human rights. As many of you know, Colombia has suffered through a war – not only with the guerrilla movements and paramilitary movements – but also with the drug cartels. In the middle are just the regular people, suffering from all this.

As I started my clinical training at Boston University, I got the chance of getting exposed to some vulnerable populations and how their legal circumstances affect their health care. Then I got involved with victims of torture and refugees. Then, as my medical career started taking off and [I] began doing scholarly work, I chose the area of human rights.

Human rights is a beautiful intersection of medicine, public health and law, so I decided to take a sabbatical and do law.

If I were to teach something to everyone it would be to be generous. Social justice is very important. Now it is even more important where we see a lot of disparities, so giving back to the community is extremely important.