Saul Solorzano

For over 20 years, Saúl fought for the well-being and development of the Latino community in the Washington, DC region and beyond. Since the late 1980s, Saul coordinated local and national efforts to protect Salvadoran and other Central American refugees fleeing their war torn countries. As an activist, Saul played an imperative role in the passing of legislation benefitting the immigrant and Central American population such as the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Saul Solorzano (1961–2011) CARECEN President and Community Leader

In 1982, he began traveling to Latino immigrant communities up and down the East Coast to call attention to the hardships of people displaced by the civil war in El Salvador and to rally support for new policy measures to alleviate their plight. In 1988 he relocated to Washington, D.C., and helped to coordinate a program for a nationwide network of church committees to provide humanitarian support to people displaced by El Salvador’s civil war and organize high-level delegations to Central America to address the refugee crisis.  At the same time, Saul helped mobilize advocacy efforts that culminated in 1991 in the U.S. Attorney General’s extension of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to Salvadorans in the U.S., enabling thousands of Salvadorans to continue to live and work legally in the U.S. and thus obtain a reprieve from the ongoing conflict in their homeland.In 1992, he was hired as the Central American Resource Center’s (Washington, DC) Associate Director and helped the organization expand its services and increase its national immigration advocacy work. In his new role, Saúl helped spearhead CARECEN’s transition to an era in which growing numbers of Salvadoran and other Central American immigrants were establishing roots in the U.S. and led the strategic shift of the organization in serving broader immigrant needs, including employment and affordable housing.

Under Saúl’s leadership, CARECEN DC assumed a pivotal convening role in periodic national campaigns to safeguard TPS benefits, serving as a focal point for Latino and faith-based grassroots activism and a key liaison with federal government decision-makers. While largely successful, the lobbying efforts by CARECEN and its allies to preserve TPS were inextricably linked to the outcome of the broader debate in the U.S. over immigration reform, which was highly uncertain.

From 1994 until his untimely death in 2011, Saul led CARECEN DC and fought tirelessly for fair laws and treatment of Central Americans and other Latinos, and established direct service programs in the areas of housing, citizenship and civic engagement and other community support services, that continue to assist our community today.

Read Washington Post Obituary: Saul Solorzano, D.C. advocate for Central American immigrants, dies at 49

Read Washington Post Story: Saul Solorzano touched thousands of lives in D.C.’s Central American community