Today’s edition of the Washington Post features an article on FOA (Friends of Anti-bvbl) Carlos Castro. Carlos is known to many of us and is one of those community leaders we meet in the film 9500 Liberty. Originally from El Salvadore, Carlos left his war-torn country at age 24. He paid a coyote $800 to smuggle him to the USA over 30 years ago. He got caught, detained and deported crossing the border but soon snuck back over.

Now a citizen of the United States, Mr. Castro tells of his journey from illegal immigrant to president of Todos Supermarket, which specializes in foods and services to immigrants from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa at stores in the eastern end of the county.

Carlos Castro explains what has motivated him:

“We were very poor, and I had this great desire to break the cycle of poverty . . . I love to read, and as a teenager, I purchased a book by Dr. Robert Schuller called ‘You Can Become the Person You Want to Be.’ I got really inspired by that in my early years. I programmed myself to succeed by understanding that success does not come that easy, that you have to go the extra mile with that goal in mind of breaking that poverty cycle.”

He gives further advise to those who aspire to break the cycle of poverty:

To succeed, people “need a strong work ethic . . . Many of our children have no idea how to go about getting things on their own, how much hard work it takes to accomplish the good things in life. I explain to them that inheriting wealth can actually work against you if you don’t know how to handle it. In order for them to succeed, they need to prepare themselves with a good education and work habits.”

Carlos can be found at most community meetings. He continually lends his quiet courteous leaderhip to others. Prince William County is fortunate that there has been a pathway to citizenship for Carlos Castro.

Full story at


16 Thoughts to “Carlos Castro: From Illegal Immigrant to Community Leader”


    I am so lucky to have heard him tell part of his story at a meeting one weekend. He needs to write a book for sure!

  2. Elena

    My dear friend Carlos, such an amazing person. THIS is truly the American story.

  3. Mando

    Kudos to Carlos for becoming a success.

    From the article:

    Best learning experience: “Being in the detention center when I first came to this country. It taught me a lot. I call that period the most productive 45 days of my life because . . . I had the [time] to ponder every venue or road that I could take because I was at a crossroads in my life.”

    Is this where he learned that in order to succeed in this country, it’s best to do so legally?

  4. Rick Bentley

    And if so, is he passing the lesson on the to the large numbers of illegal immigrants that his business thrives on?

  5. Rick, you might say the same thing about Giant, Lowes, Walmart.

    The fact is, there was a pathway to citizenship for CITIZEN Carlos Castro. He probably achieved legal status either through a TPS visa or under Ronald Reagan.

    Legal is LEGAL. Citzen is Citzen.

  6. Soap box time: The avenues are pretty much cut off for becoming legal nowadays and very few latin Americans are let in the country on visas. The system is broken.

    I am all for deporting criminals. I do think productive, law-abiding people should be able to become Americans, regardless of where they are from.

  7. Rick Bentley

    At any number? You don’t want to limit the inflow? You want the US to assimilate massive numbers of immigrants as fast as they can get here?

    You’re not uncomfortable with the fact that these people leaving allows the wealthy and corrupt in their own nations to maintain a safety valve against having to create better societies? You are happy to see those nations’ percentages of working young people shrink dramatically?

    And here at home, you’re comfortable with large influxes of poor and uneducated making life much more competitive for our own poor, to the point of seriously degrading quality of life and dignity in labor?

    Just what’s the plan here? Obviously there is none, but i would argue that there needs to be.

  8. Rick Bentley

    On the subject of Castro, he sounds like a good guy from the story. But undoubtably makes a large amount of his income from the illegal immigrant population. So here’s hoping he makes less.

  9. Rick Bentley

    Christian charity and faith in corrupt rulers, the current approach to the issue for many people, ain’t much of a plan in my opinion.

  10. How about balance? How about just making it reasonable to immigrate? No mass entrance by any one group. But that leaves the question, what is balance?

    Most great immigrant influxes have been comprised of the poor and uneducated. Generally speaking, if people are prosperous and doing well for themselves, they don’t want to leave family and friends and go to far off lands.

    We need to be able to control borders for safety and match immigration to work force needs also. I have no problem with controlled temporary work visas either. Our current laws don’t work. They don’t meet the needs of the people. If I am wrong about this, why did we have an immigration crisis in this country?

  11. Elena

    I believe my ancestors fell into that category of poor for sure! My grandfather came here as a baby, from Russia, escaping the pogroms. Certainly they came with very little and lived crowded in a tenament building in Massachusettes.

  12. Poor Richard

    Today’s Wapo op/ed has a piece by Ed Gillespie, former chair of the RNC and
    chair of the Bob McDonnell campaign -“Lessons from Virginia for the GOP” ,
    in which he notes “Instead of indulging in the anti-immigration of past
    Republican campaigns, McDonnell appealed to the growing Hispanic and
    Asian enclaves of Northern Virginia, where his message of entrepreneurship,
    educational opportunity and strong families resonated.” Sounds like
    Mr. Castro and others like him were a target – and in a good way this time.

  13. Rebecca

    Does that mean Greg will take his vote for McDonnell back?

  14. Mando

    Increasing the rate of legal immigration (which I’m fine with) will have no effect on the demand for black market labor (which is high in NOVA).

  15. M-H thanks for posting this. I was at the McCoart Center for an all day Leadership Prince William meeting on Economic Development — with fellow classmate, Carlos Castro! He didn’t say a word to us about being in the Washington Post!

    Carlos tirelessly gives back to the community with his time, talent and support. He ranks up there with other local business people who are engaged and involved in the whole community, not just their own success.

    He has at least twice won state-level awards from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, too, and that reflects well on Prince William.

  16. Let’s add modesty and humility to Carlos’ attributes. He is truly a good and decent man.

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