This past month a wave of immigration related Know Your Rights trainings spread across Hidalgo County colonias. Promoted by colonia leaders and facilitated by LUPE organizers, the 28 different trainings provided the opportunity for over 570 colonia residents to reflect on the current anti-immigrant climate, better understand their rights when confronted by immigration authorities and reconfirm their commitment to bringing about immigration reform.
The wave of trainings began at our LUPE offices, and spread to residents’ homes throughout the colonias as residents took responsibility of bringing the trainings to their friends, family and neighbors.
The trainings have spread in this manner, with attendees of previous trainings volunteering to host the next training. In this way, LUPE members and organizers are able to reach more and more people through attendees’ own social networks.
In Colonia Eduardos II, located north of Palmview, el Señor y la Señora Torres opened up their home to organizer Javier Parra to give his 9th training in the Alton/Mission area. Señor Torres, who had attended one of Parra’s previous trainings at the home of a friend, wanted to host a training in his neighborhood. He believes it is important to host these meetings to get a better understanding of his rights and to allow his neighbors the same opportunity he had.The friends and family of la familia Torres gathered around the side of their house as Parra projected the training videos using the back of a sign as a projector screen. The rigged setup did not deter participants from being engaged in the training and discussing their rights within the current anti-immigrant climate. Such circumstances are common in the colonias. And organizers will work with any situation to make sure the trainings reach as many people as possible.
Experiencing the training for the first time, Señora Torres said that the training was important because everyone knew a little about their rights, and maybe some knew nothing, “but together we all learned how to handle ourselves in front of immigration.”
The training was also an opportunity to teach the history of LUPE and invite participants to become members and volunteers on current projects.
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and LUPE collaborated in creating the trainings.