“I’m one of three doctors in my family,” says Dr. Esteban Lopez. “Well, we like to joke that we have two real doctors and then a dentist.” The internist and pediatrician comes from a family of six children, all of whom have at least an undergraduate education. It’s a fact he’s particularly proud of, since his parents came to the United States as migrant workers from Mexico with just a first-grade education. “I can only imagine the opportunities they would have had with an education,” he says. “But they gave the six of us a pathway to a better life.”
Born and raised in California, Lopez has spent the past 13 years in San Antonio, where he serves as the Southwest Texas market president of BlueCross BlueShield ofTexas. He is also the 2017 chair-elect of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. His roles in the community, combined with his own family’s history, have given him a unique view on immigration reform — one fueled by a desire to enrich the health and well-being of immigrants and to improve the local economy. When Lopez’s father first came to the United States in the early 1960s, it was through a guest worker program that allowed his wife and two young sons to get visas. This was as much a benefit to the country as it was to the family, he says: “If it wasn’t for immigrants in our country today, we’d be suffering some of the same problems we see in Italy and Greece. But with immigrants comes a fresh new workforce.”
What I like to say about San Antonio is that we’ve had folks who were here before the Alamo, and folks that arrived yesterday. What that has given us is a very dynamic business community, and it has enriched the fabric of our nation.
Knowing this, Lopez would like to see a quicker road to citizenship. “The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants is studied and well-known,” he says. “We need sensible policies that provide a pathway to citizenship for those who are here, working, contributing. We need to encourage and continue that entrepreneurial spirit.” Through his work at the chamber, Lopez has gotten to know business owners from Spain, Mexico, Colombia, and Israel, all of whom are actively growing the San Antonio economy. “What I like to say about San Antonio is that we’ve had folks who were here before the Alamo, and folks that arrived yesterday,” he says. “What that has given us is a very dynamic business community, and it has enriched the fabric of our nation.”