SAN BENITO, RGV – The timing of it is purely coincidental but just as President Trump confirmed increased militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border – with the deployment of an as yet unknown number of National Guard troops – La Unión Del Pueblo Entero announced it was co-hosting “Know Your Rights” sessions for immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley.

The sessions, to be held over the next five days in San Benito, Mission, Rio Grande City and Brownsville, are being hosted jointly by LUPE and the El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights, which is taking a “TogetherJuntos” Caravan across the Valley.

Interviewed by the Rio Grande Guardian after giving a presentation about the work of LUPE to the San Benito Chamber of Commerce, Javier Hernandez, office manager of LUPE’s new Cameron County office, said:

“We respect what the president says and does but we are here to inform the people that they do have rights, for them not to be intimidated or fearful, to know they are an important part of our community.”

To coincide with the “Know Your Rights” sessions, LUPE has created a flyer to tell immigrant families what to do if they come into contact with law enforcement agencies. The flyer states:

  • DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR: Border Patrol, ICE, DPS, the Sheriff and/or the Police cannot enter your home without a warrant signed by a judge.
  • REMAIN SILENT: They can use anything you say against you. Stay calm and do not run. If you run, the agents will have a reason to stop you.
  • DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING: Do not sign any document that you do not understand without speaking with a lawyer or board of immigration appeals (BIA) representative.
  • REPORT & RECORD: Take pictures, videos (unless you are in federal government property), notes of badge numbers, type of car and exactly what happened.
  • DO NOT SHOW ANY DOCUMENT: Unless it is a letter from a lawyer. Do not show any false document.

The “TogetherJuntos” Caravan is a two-week tour that has so far visited 12 cities along the Texas-Mexico border. Organizers say the caravan is “providing an opportunity for communities to come together and fight back discriminatory policies, like Texas’ SB4.”

Asked about the caravan tour, LUPE’s Hernandez said: “The caravan is coming from Laredo. They are doing a presentation at 6 p.m. Thursday at our office in San Benito, so people can know their rights. There are a lot of people in our community that do not know their rights if they get stopped – what they need to say, what documents they should present.”

Asked about the deployment of the National Guard, Hernandez said: They are doing their job. We need people to know what their rights are, not to be fearful.”

The caravan stops in the Rio Valley are:

THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2018

SAN BENITO

875 S. Sam Houston Boulevard, Suite D, San Benito, TX 78586

1pm – Train the trainers for Know Your Rights

6pm – Know Your Rights Presentation for General Community

FRIDAY, APRIL 6, 2018

MISSION

Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church: 620 N. Dunlap Avenue, Mission, TX 78572

5pm – Train-the-Trainers – Know Your Rights in English

7pm – Know Your Rights (Bilingual) for Community Members

SATURDAY, APRIL 7, 2018

SAN JUAN

San Juan Municipal Park

9:30am-1pm – Marcha de Cesar Chavez

SUNDAY, APRIL 8, 2018

RIO GRANDE CITY

San Pablo Apostol Catholic Church, 5547 US-83, Rio Grande City, TX 78582

11:30 AM – Mass and Blessing of the Caravan

2pm – Know Your Rights Training and Human Rights

MONDAY, APRIL 9, 2018

BROWNSVILLE

9am – Know Your Rights Training – Iglesia Presbiteriana San Pablo, 2604 Southmost Road, Brownsville, TX 78521

1:30pm – Press Conference – Cameron County Courthouse, 974 E. Harrison Street, Brownsville, TX 78520

The “TogetherJuntos” Caravan is convened by the Border Network for Human Rights in collaboration with the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance, La Union del Pueblo Enter, South Texas Human Rights Center, Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos, Casa de Proyecto Libertad, Neta, and Americas Voice.

The entire caravan schedule can be found at www.togetherjuntos.org.

San Benito office


LUPE is a non-profit, non-partisan, group that aims to help low-income and colonia residents. It was started in Hidalgo County in 2003 as an offshoot of the United Farm Workers union. While it well established in Hidalgo County it only started organizing in Cameron County two years ago.

With two colleagues, LUPE’s Hernandez was at the San Benito Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday to announce to chamber members that the group is now up and running in their city. Its office address is 875 S. Sam Houston Boulevard, Suite D, San Benito.

Hernandez said that while the group is primarily focused on colonies in and around San Benito, the plan is to expand to other rural communities around Cameron County.

“We are reaching out to all the colonias in Cameron that might need our services. We know we have our work cut out getting our name out there,” Hernandez told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“There are 15 or 16 colonies in and around San Benito, with a population of about 600. We are trying to reach out to them so they know what our services are. But, we also know there are lot of colonias in the rest of Cameron County. We aim to reach out to them.”