“You are not allowed to cross the border,” the agent said. “With that name, you will want to fight to get California back. I know your story.”
Murrieta-Saldívar knew the story of Joaquin Murrieta Carrillo, a mining worker in California during the Gold Rush known as the Robin Hood of the West.
For many Mexican-Americans and Mexicans, Murrieta Carrillo was a fighter trying to recover the land that had been stolen by the United States. For Americans, he was a bandit that stole gold and horses. For Tucsonans, Joaquín Murrieta is the name of a park on the west side along North Silverbell Road.
In the 1800s, Murrieta Carrillo emigrated to California, seeking fortune and gold. Two centuries later, one of his descendants, Murrieta-Saldívar, would migrate to Arizona, looking for a natural resource as valuable as gold: water.
“My mom said to me that when I was born, my grandmother told her: ‘he is your last child, you already have the last name, Murrieta. So, he must be named Joaquín,’” Murrieta-Saldívar said.