EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The Mexican government is recognizing an El Paso elected official for his advocacy on behalf of immigrants.

The Mexican consulate says it gave the 2022 “Ohtli,” or Road Maker award to County Judge Ricardo Samaniego as part of Mexican Independence Day celebrations. Samaniego has been “an invaluable and unconditional ally” in binational health, education and business issues, the consulate said in a statement.

Consul General Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de Leon presented Samaniego with the award during last week’s Mexican Independence Day celebrations at San Jacinto Plaza in Downtown El Paso.

Samaniego in the past two years has led bilingual efforts to help the community manage the COVID-19 pandemic, including arranging for the vaccination of 32,000 Juarez maquiladora workers at the Tornillo, Texas, port of entry, and he has been a partner to the consulate in sports and educational programs.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego. (photo courtesy Government of Mexico)

“Ohtli is the highest recognition given by the Government of Mexico to members of its communities abroad or friends of Mexico who have dedicated their lives and professional activities to ‘make new roads’ to improve the quality of life and increase development opportunities” in Mexican communities abroad, the consulate said.

The El Paso native and University of Texas at El Paso and Notre Dame graduate said he was grateful for the award.

“My relationship with Mexico has been always a special and gratifying one. What I’ve been able to achieve at a binational level is the result of the incredible relationship with Consul Ibarra and his great team,” Samaniego said. “My passion for binational issues is has to do with my family’s history with Mexico and the strong (cultural) heritage they instilled in me.”