From the Power of the People to the Power of the President, 14 Moments that Defined our 2014
2014 has been a momentous year, including a groundswell of pressure from the grassroots for the president to take action to stop deportations. While presidential action on immigration may have been the highlight, the year was filled significant moments when members, supporters and allies of La Union del Pueblo Entero made a big impact in their communities. Re-live the awesomeness of this year with us.
1. March | Packed house for LUPE’s showing of the major motion picture Cesar Chavez
At the first of three special pre-opening weekend screenings of the Cesar Chavez movie, LUPE and AARP members filled the Carmike 20 theater and sold out the showing. Best moment of the night was the audience joining the characters on screen when Cesar started the aplauso organizado! Huge thanks to AARP, The Monitor, Doctor Hospital at Renaissance, BlueWave Express Car Wash for co-sponsoring the special showings.
2. March | Premiere of UFW Documentary with Arturo Rodriguez and Rebecca Flores
La Unión del Pueblo Entero celebrated the birthday of our founder Cesar Chavez on March 31st by premiering the new documentary, Voices of the UFW in Texas. The premiere featured Rebecca Flores, former executive Director of the UFW in Texas and Arturo Rodriguez, the current President of the United Farm Workers union. Many veterans of the farmworker movement attended the premiere, including some of the first UFW members in Texas, as well as many workers who had marched alongside Cesar Chavez.
3. April | Cumbre de Colonias
In our biannual Cumbre de Colonias (Colonia Summit), LUPE members prioritized the issues we will work on over the next two years. Our members chose streetlights, drainage, public parks, drivers' licenses and immigration reform as our top issues. They also committed to pushing President Obama to take action to stop deportations.
4. April | MSNBC's NOW with Alex Wagner visits LUPE families!
During our colonia summit, we were visited by Alex Wagner from MSNBC's NOW with Alex Wagner, who came to learn more about life along the border and visited various LUPE families to learn about their struggles without streetlights and immigration reform. View the episodes featuring LUPE on the program's website here and here.
Read more moments from 2014 after the jump.
5. June | Commitment from Joseph Palacios to create system for streetlights
In a historic step for our work to bring streetlights to all Valley colonias, County Commissioner Joseph Palacios of Precinct 4 earlier this year committed to introducing for a vote a plan that would allow the county to fund the installation of streetlights and charge for electricity consumption. It was the first time in our 10 years of work on the issue that a public official took responsibility for the lack of streetlights in colonias. The Commissioner's plan will be officially unveiled in January of 2015.
6. June | We stopped the county from shutting down trash collection stations
Commissioners were set to vote on change to county’s sanitation system that would potentially have closed county trash collection sites--effectively privatizing one of the few services the county provides to colonia residents. We mobilized residents to speak out against it, and got commissioners to postpone the vote and consult with the community. After attending our community forums in each precinct, commissioners voted unanimously to keep trash collection sites open.
7. July | Refugee crisis and humanitarian response – Don’t deport refugees to death!
When prominent members of both political parties began calling for quicker deportation of unaccompanied minors and family units fleeing violence in Central America, LUPE joined UTPA Minority Affairs Council and United We Dream to support refugees and to call for protection not deportation.
8. August | Pueblo de Palmas organizes against DPS State Troopers calling Border Patrol
The community of Pueblo de Palmas in west Hidalgo County has been terrorized by State Troopers calling immigration during routine traffic stops. With the help of LUPE and the RGV Equal Voice Network Abuse Documentation Project, communitiy members learned their rights and what they need to do to put a stop to it.
9. August | DPS calls Border Patrol on mother of five U.S. citizen children
After being stopped by State Troopers for a routine traffic stop, Isabel Barbosa was deported away from her five children, husband and community she has called home for the last 18 years. We couldn't stop Isabel's deportation, but that can't paralyze us.
We need to stop the practice of DPS asking for papers and calling immigration. Take action now and sign the petition.
10. August | Through RAPIDO program, Aldape family qualifies for a much needed new home
After months of effort, the Aldape family, LUPE leaders from the Mercedes area, will finally qualify for a new home after Hurricane Dolly damaged the one they currently live in. The family of eight, including three boys and three girls, was especially hard to qualify because of their size, but was still one of the families most in need of a new home. When we got it approved, Mrs Aldape was finally able to tell her kids they would soon be living in a new home! RAPIDO is a pilot program developed and run by the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) that aims to ensure that when disaster strikes, families in need can get home within weeks, instead of months or years. Four other LUPE families have also qualified for new homes under the program.
11. October | LUCHA ensures the most needy colonias won't be left out of state drainage study
When the biggest, most comprehensive study of colonia drainage needs decided to leave out many of the colonias with the worst history of flooding, our LUCHA leaders sprang into action. After sending letters, postcards and making calls to officials addressing the oversight, LUPE and ARISE members had to travel all the way to Austin to get the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), the state board that commissioned the study, to finally commit to including all 863 colonias in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties in the study, which will be used to prioritize the funding of drainage projects in the future. Thanks to the Ford Foundation for sponsoring this effort and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service for advising it.
12. November | Anti-immigrant Governor and Lt Governor elected in Texas
Historic low turnout in the 2014 midterm elections meant that anti-immigrant politicians were able to easily win their bids for top public office in Texas. Rather than mourn, LUPE members, together with the Immigration Working Group of the RGV Equal Voice Network, are preparing to defend the rights of our communities in the next Texas legislative session, which starts January 2015. Here, LUPE leader Manuela Luna reads a poem she wrote after hearing the election results.
Join LUPE members by pledging to fight anti-immigrant bills in the next Texas legislative session.
13. November | President Obama bends to nationwide pressure and takes action to curb deportations
After deporting more than 2 million of our immigrant community members, President Obama finally took action to protect families from deportation. Bending to the constant pressure of immigrant rights advocates nationwide, the president implemented an executive plan that may provide up to 4 million undocumented Americans protection from deportation.
14. December | Unidos por RGV gains commitment from UT-RGV top officials to tour colonias
The initiative Unidos por RGV made major gains this year. The initiative is a collaborative effort between LUPE and ARISE to ensure the new university UT-RGV serves the colonia population of the Valley. Unidos por RGV was able to gain the commitment from UT-RGV president Guy Baily and Dean of the new medical school Francisco Fernandez, M.D., to take an in-depth tour of the colonias. That tour will happen in early 2015. Thanks to the Ford Foundation for sponsoring this effort and to our partners CDCB, Public Architecture, and bcWORKSHOP.
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