FARM WORKER AND IMMIGRANT MOVEMENT VICTORIES IN SOUTH TEXAS
During the United Farm Workers:
(Under the leadership of Rebecca Flores, State Director for South Texas)
1981: Ban of the Cortito
Legislation passed; Growers subsequently began requiring workers to use a knife for weeding seedlings. In 1987 a law was passed to outlaw unnecessary stoop labor but the Republican Governor vetoed it ‘because workers already had Workers Compensation coverage.’
1983: Clean Toilets & Drinking Water in the fields
Texas Dept. of Health adopted field sanitation rules rather than face a national boycott of Texas fresh vegetables which ‘might be contaminated by human waste.’
1984: Inclusion under Workers Compensation law
In light of a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court, a special session of the Legislature adopted legislation guaranteeing coverage for all farmworkers.
1984: Pesticide Controls
Texas Department of Agriculture adopted a set of rules requiring farmers to warn neighbors (when requested) of impending aerial spraying
1985: Unemployment Compensation for farmworkers
Following the same argument as the Workers Comp law, the Supreme Court forced the Legislature to provide coverage to farmworkers who had been excluded.
1985: Minimum Wage improvement
The Legislature raised the state minimum wage from $1.70 to $3.35 per hour. Later revision permanently tied the state minimum to the federal minimum wage.
1987: Pesticide Controls
Under threat of another discrimination lawsuit, the Legislature wrote a law which established requirements that growers record their use of pesticides and provide farmworkers access to those records. It also required training for farmworkers and distribution of pesticide use information. Under a Republican Commissioner of Agriculture most provisions have been declared superseded by federal Worker Protection Standards.
2001-2007: Driver’s License for Immigrants
The Texas Legislature passed a bill removing the requirement that applicants present a Social Security Card to apply for a license. This provision would have enabled undocumented immigrants to obtain a license in Texas. Although the bill passed with overwhelming support, the Republican Governor used his veto power to kill the legislation. In every session since 2001 the Republican majority has blocked any effort to pass a bill to allow immigrants to obtain a license.
2001: Resident Tuition for Undocumented Students
Through the organizing efforts of a broad coalition, the legislature passed a bill permitting all graduates of Texas high schools to enroll at any university in Texas and pay resident tuition rates instead of ‘foreign student’ rates.
During La Union del Pueblo Entero:
(Under the leadership of Juanita Valdez-Cox, Executive Director)
2005-2007: Colonia Streetlights
In 2005 the Legislature authorized counties to expend a portion of their CDBG funds to install and maintain streetlights in colonias. In 2007 they authorized those same counties to collect a fee from colonia residents to pay for the electricity used by those streetlights.
2008: DHS Lawsuit
In conjunction with South Texas Civil Rights Project and other non-profit groups, LUPE filed a petition seeking clarification from Border Patrol on its plan to keep checkpoints open and follow immigration enforcement procedures during hurricane evacuation.
2008: Delegations to Valley Police Chiefs Re: 287g
LUPE member delegations met with police chiefs in nine Valley cities to discuss the harmful impact on communities due to 287g (local police enforcing immigration law). The police departments agreed that they did not want to lose the trust of the community through enforcement of 287g. Also as a result of these meetings, the Hidalgo County sheriff’s department now accepts the LUPE membership card as a form of ID for families who want to visit relatives in county detention.
2009: FEMA Lawsuit Re: Hurricane Dolly
In conjunction with South Texas Civil Rights Project, LUPE filed a lawsuit against FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Dolly for denying housing repair applications to low-income residents in the colonias. The judge ordered FEMA to publish clearer standards for determining which disaster victims qualify for repair funds and ordered the agency to reconsider denial of home repairs to Hurricane survivors in the lower Rio Grande Valley.
2010: Testifying before State Board of Education
LUPE leaders and staff testified during the Board of Education’s public hearing to ensure that Cesar Chavez would not be taken out of 5th grade US History curriculum. Due to numerous testimonies from civil rights groups and concerned parents, as well as thousands of faxes & calls to Board members, the State Board of Education decided to accept Cesar Chavez as part of the ‘required’ curriculum to teach 5th grade students.
2010: Food Stamps & Assistance
On behalf of LUPE and community members, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid filed a lawsuit against the Texas Health & Human Services Commission’s practice of illegally keeping low-income families from obtaining food stamp aid, resulting in only half of qualifying families receiving assistance. Efforts are underway to ensure that Texas works to eliminate the backlog of food stamp applications by reviewing applications in a timely manner.
2011: Anti-Immigrant Legislation
Defeated over 100 anti-immigrant bills in Texas legislature as part of statewide “Texas Can do Better” campaign coordinated through the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance. Organizations from across the state of Texas participated in the campaign, lobbying law makers, building alliances with local businesses and churches, engaging grassroots leaders from various communities, and protesting in front of the state Capitol.
2011: Drainage & Housing Improvements
Without the proper infrastructure to drain them, Colonia residents face persistent flooding, some tolerating standing water for weeks before it’s pumped out. This year, Hidalgo County Commissioners agreed to devote at least $14 million of Hurricane Dolly Disaster Recovery funds to improve drainage projects in colonias. Additionally, colonia residents will be prioritized when the federal government distributes $122 million to repair homes damaged by Hurricane Doll. These victories came as a result of the work of LUPE, ARISE, TOP, Proyecto Azteca and the rest of the Equal Voice Network’s housing and drainage team.
2012: Colonia Streetlights
After an 8 year campaign, members won the installation of streetlights in 13 Hidalgo County colonias. Working with the Communities Creating Healthy Environments (CCHE) initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, LUPE members worked with Hidalgo County Commissioners and their precinct staff to fund and install the streetlights.
2012: Parks & Walking Trails
Working with the Communities Creating Healthy Environments (CCHE) initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, LUPE members achieved the construction or renovation of three outside community spaces for exercise and recreation close to Hidalgo County Colonias.
2013: Immigrant Private Prison
With the RGV Equal Voice Network, helped stop the City of McAllen from constructing 1000-bed private prison that would have incarcerated immigrants for profit.