LUPE Receives Prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for Our Immigrant Rights Work at the Border

“Border communities are demonstrating what it looks like to respond to humanitarian need with care, concern, and love”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, June 6, 2019, La Unión del Pueblo Entero was recognized with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in Washington D.C. The award, presented by Kerry Kennedy to LUPE’s Juanita Valdez-Cox, is an annual award given by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights to an individual or group of individuals who stand up to oppression at grave personal risk in the nonviolent pursuit of human rights.

Livestream of the recognition ceremony can be viewed here.

The following are excerpts from Juanita Valdex-Cox‘s acceptance speech, delivered in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the U.S. Senate:

“50 years ago, Senator Robert F Kennedy joined UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez to break a 25-day, water-only fast to recommit the union to nonviolence. Since then, the Kennedy family and the farmworker movement have been bound to honor nonviolent organizing.

With each asylum seeker we welcome, each warm meal we serve, each family we reunite, border communities are demonstrating what it looks like to respond to humanitarian need with care, concern, and love.

“In the midst of family separation, perpetrated by Trump and his Administration, the Kennedy’s went to South Texas. Kerry Kennedy and LUPE’s Co-founder Dolores Huerta kicked-off a 24-day prayer and fast chain, a fast that reminded many of the histories shared by our families.

“La Union del Pueblo Entero is rooted in the sweat, tears, hard work, dedication and the many other struggles of immigrant and farmworker families.

“The Rio Grande Valley is surrounded by the border wall on one side and checkpoints intended to separate an entire border community from the rest of the nation. LUPE works with the low-income immigrant community who has decided to migrate to the United States for a better way of life. It has been 15 years of work in the Rio Grande Valley, the poorest area in the nation, but rich in culture and resiliency.

“LUPE helps low-income residents of the South Texas border organize themselves to build power, create opportunities, and win a better quality of life. With the current humanitarian crisis we have at the border, LUPE families welcome new immigrants into the nation while advocating for long-term immigration reform.

Since 2016, our home has faced different and difficult challenges. Our home remains determined to resist and overcome the vicious anti-immigrant measures imposed by the current administration.

“But the president is ignoring his humanitarian responsibilities. He’s using children and other vulnerable people to manufacture a crisis at the southern border. It’s a cynical ploy to push for more money and more legal authority to cage families and children, exclude asylum seekers, and build wasteful and damaging border walls.

“It’s so important that we push back on Trump’s attacks on new immigrant families and asylum seekers at the border. If we don’t, those tactics will soon be extended to families who have made this country their home.

That’s why LUPE members are advocating for a humanitarian response to humanitarian need. If the president’s efforts to stoke fear are successful in securing funding for militarization over a humanitarian response, it won’t just be asylum-seeking families that suffer.

“The prestigious RFK Human Rights Award means that more people will learn about the work of LUPE members to create a border region where families can remain together and all can thrive.”

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LUPE is a nonprofit organization that helps the community organize for and win a better quality of life. LUPE was founded in 1989 by farmworker and civil rights leaders Cesar E. Chavez and Dolores Huerta. We are a membership-based organization and our strength is found in the participation of our over eight thousand members. LUPE is a member organization of the RGV Equal Voice Network.

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