Category Archives: Events

SB1070’s implementation provides occasion to speak out against increased raids and deportations

Yesterday was a momentous day. People carried out civil disobedience, protests, and rallies against SB1070 in cities across the country and the globe. In the RGV, LUPE members and supporters hosted a prayer vigil to protest the implementation of SB1070 and draw attention to the effects of our broken immigration system on our own community.

Solidarity protest in Oakland against SB1070

Solidarity protest in Oakland against SB1070

The National Day Laborer’s Organizing Network, one of the major ally groups and active organizers in the fight against SB1070, reported: “New Yorkers shut down the Brooklyn Bridge. In Los Angeles, they locked down Wilshire Blvd. In Tucson, they blocked the highways. They protested in Milwaukee, Chicago, Louisville, Ecuador, Spain, and Mexico.

“In Phoenix, Sheriff Arpaio’s office and his jail were shut down the morning SB 1070 went into effect. More than 80 people including Unitarian Universalist President, Peter Morales, and Salvador Reza, a leader of the Puente Movement, were arrested in acts of non-compliance.”

People converge in Phoenix, Arizona to protest the racist anti-immigrant bill SB1070

People converge in Phoenix, Arizona to protest the racist anti-immigrant bill SB1070

In Texas, the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance, a statewide coalition of immigrant rights organizations of which LUPE is a member, organized and participated in vigils in Austin, Dallas, El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley.

Solidarity protest in San Juan against SB1070

LUPE member holds up sign saying "we don't want SB1070"

The San Juan vigil, with over 3 dozen participants, allowed community members to connect the implementation of the racist SB1070 with the increased terror felt in local colonias as a result of Border Patrol raids and harassment.

In an article published today, The Monitor reported:

Families who work with La Union del Pueblo Entero in South Texas have reported a growing number of instances in recent weeks of U.S. Border Patrol agents detaining them in neighborhoods, in shopping areas and outside workplaces, said Corinna Spencer-Schuerich, the director of the South Texas Civil Rights Project…

While the judge’s order will likely delay other states from implementing similar laws, Spencer-Schuerich said, it will do little to address an already unjust immigration system.

“The judge clearly recognized the discriminatory nature of Arizona’s law,” she said. “But the federal government needs to take action on comprehensive immigration reform. It’s time to get something done that is compassionate.”

Sareth recites Prayer of the Farmworker in the Struggle

Sareth recites Prayer of the Farmworker in the Struggle

The prayer vigil started with the Prayer of the Farmworker in the Struggle led by LUPE leader Sara Herrera and continued with recognition of all the immigrants and activists organizing in Arizona against SB1070 by organizer Martha Sanchez.

After recognizing that the partial and temporary injunction only meant that the new law would have less harsh effects, Martha reminded attendees that SB1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation are products of a broken immigration system that requires reform. Immigrant repression in Arizona and immigrant raids and harassment in the Valley can only be ended by humane and comprehensive immigration reform.

Martha then invited LUPE members to speak out against SB1070. One member said that the raids here and SB1070 in Arizona are not right because people are decent and hard working and come to this country to make a life for themselves and their families. “We don’t want SB1070,” he said, “because it is discrimination against working people.”

Celestino gives know your rights training

Celestino gives know your rights training

The event continued with a “Conoce tus derechos” training from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and South Texas Civil Rights Projects, two legal aid groups dedicated to helping low income RGV residents fight for their civil and legal rights. The training focused on the constitutional rights held by all residents, no matter what their status, when approached by law enforcement officials.

The Rio Grande Guardian reports:

Celestino Gallegos, an attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, told the audience that there a lot of misconceptions about what the police can do when it comes to immigration issues. He said jurisdiction matters.

“Local police do not enforce immigration laws. Only immigration officials are there to enforce immigration laws,” Gallegos said. “It is important to know your rights if you are stopped by police. You need to know how best to answer police questions and insert your own rights.”

Sanchez said LUPE would be mounting a vigorous education program to explain the legal rights of immigrant families in the coming weeks, with events planned at the group’s offices in Mercedes, San Juan and Alton.

The event ended with singing and a prayer.

See all the pics from the event here.

"We want immigration reform!"

"We want immigration reform!"

Images from today’s fight against SB1070

Protest SB1070 in Phoenix

Protesters blocking Sheriff Joe Arpio's Jail

Protesters blocking Sheriff Joe Arpio's Jail

Banner Hang Against SB1070 in Downtown San Francisco

Banner Hang Against SB1070 in Downtown San Francisco

View photos from our vigil here.

And check out more pictures from around the country here.

And here are twitpics from the protests.

LUPE Members Invest In Their Future as American Citizens

On Monday, July 12, as part of LUPE’s Programa Escalera, LUPE recognized 45 graduates of our U.S. Citizenship Opportunity Program. LUPE Members received certificates recognizing their achievement and heard words of congratulation and encouragement from U.S. Representative Rubén Hinojosa and Texas Representative Armando Martinez. Graduates also took the opportunity to register to vote for the first time as new U.S. citizens.

The U.S. Citizenship Opportunity Program assists immigrants that are ready to make a deeper commitment to the United States as their home. The program offers U.S. Government classes, and reading and writing in English in preparation for the Naturalization examination administered by the U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services. The program allows participants to overcome their perception that they cannot fully participate in U.S. public life due to non-citizenship. As new citizens, graduates of the program are ready to integrate themselves into the fabric of American society, now allowed to participate fully in the democratic decision-making processes.

LUPE member and new citizen Fidel Rodriguez receives certificate of recognition from Congressman Rubén Hinojosa

LUPE is proud to recognize all of our members who have worked hard to become new U.S. citizens. Each member has over come countless hurtles erected by our convoluted immigration system. This visual example of the long and confusing maze towards U.S. citizenship might help you appreciate all that these individuals have gone through to arrive where they are today.

Despite the long and complicated process, these members have achieved their goal of becoming citizens. Each member has shown their commitment to this nation and there is no doubt that through civic engagement and organizing they will play their part in making it a better place for all.

We also recognize the thousands more who have shown their dedication to this nation through hard work and contributions to their community yet are denied access to citizenship. Thousands of our community members, fleeing economic, religious or political persecution have made the U.S. their home yet have no path to citizenship. Being denied access to legal status, they become targets of raids, harassment, and family separation. It is the moral responsibility of our politicians to pass comprehensive immigration reform to put our immigration system back on track, for them, for their families, and for our communities.

The Citizenship Opportunity Program is just one benefit of our Programa Escalera, through which LUPE invests in the self-development of our members and the community. The program also offers Literacy, ESL, and GED classes. Escalera goes beyond the basic needs of individuals to develop greater skills thereby allowing participants to improve their lives and their ability to respond to new opportunities.

Citizenship teachers pose with congressmen

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, Maestras Sonia Limas and Claudia Berenice Garza, and TX Rep. Armando Martinez

36 of Monday’s graduates have been sworn in as new naturalized citizens by the U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services. The remaining 9 are awaiting notification from the INS of their swearing in ceremony.

Click here for a slideshow of our new citizenship ceremony.

Protest of Murder by US Border Patrol

On Friday, Community members gathered on the busy intersection in front of the federal building in McAllen to protest the murder of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereka, the second Mexican civilian murdered by US Border Patrol within the span of two weeks.

On Tuesday June 8, in Ciudad Juarez, a Border Patrol agent fatally shot the 15-year-old near the El Paso del Norte bridge that joins Juarez and El Paso, Texas. The boy’s sister, Rosario, told Associated Press Television News that her brother was playing with several friends and did not plan to cross the border.

The protest, organized by the Southwest Workers’ Union, denounced the use of excessive and deadly force against unarmed working people and youth, which is a violation of our human rights and has led to death and the suffering of families.

When asked how she felt upon hearing of Huereka’s death, community member Cruz said, “Bad, because you also have kids.” She said that parents can only imagine how it feels to lose a child. “It is unjust what they are doing to us, and only because we come to work.”

The US Department of Justice said that it would launch an investigation concerning civil rights violations. The El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights, an 11-year-old community organization that works for comprehensive immigration reform and accountable and responsible border policy, said that they will do all they can to ensure justice is served. In a statement released Tuesday, BNHR Director Fernando Garcia said the Network “will follow these developments closely and is preparing a series of activities to bring about justice and accountability.”

The most recent violence was made public only two weeks after President Obama announced 1,200 National Guard troops to be sent to the US-Mexico border. According to Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department, there were 5 deaths and injuries on the border due to the Border Patrol in 2008, increasing to 12 in 2009 and now 17 in the first 6 months of 2010. The increased militarization of the border coupled with anti-immigrant hostility means that this trend is sure to increase.

View more video of the protest here and more pictures here and here (thanks to Mary Scully).