The Biggest Victories for Border Families in 2019

This year has been filled with challenges, but it has also been filled with victories, moments of joy, and accomplishments — the most yet under the Trump administration. This year shows that despite the attacks of a hateful, racist administration, we can win for our inclusive, strong community and make strides toward a border region where families remain together and all can thrive.


12. We Received One of the Top Human Rights Awards

As human rights awards go, you can’t get much more prestigious than the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. LUPE was honored and humbled to receive the award this year in recognition of our humanitarian response and migrant rights work at the border. Read more about our work for a border region where families remain together and all can thrive.

11. Mothers Graduate from Colonia Health Clubs to Promote a Healthier Lifestyle

Colonia residents practice mindful movement exercises during colonia Community Health Club meeting

After ten weekly sessions, we are proud to have over 50 graduates from across the Rio Grande Valley complete our “Salud con Sabor Latino” (Health with a Latin Flavor), a Community Health Club course that focuses on healthy cooking, physical activity, and nutrition. Learn more about our Community Health Clubs.

10. Keeping Families Together through Our U.S. Citizenship Program and Immigration Services

Maria del Rosario Garcia New U.S. Citizen and Citizenship Opportunity Program Graduate

Our social and legal services teams worked over 1500 immigration cases this year, helping over 1000 families with the casework they need to remain together. We are especially proud of the over 500 LUPE members who naturalized as U.S. Citizens this year. Read about how LUPE’s U.S. Citizenship Opportunity program is changing lives.

9. LUPE Gala Reminded Us to Never Lose Faith in the Ability of the Least Powerful to Take on the Most Powerful and Win

That was the message of gala special guests Rebecca Flores and Paul Chavez, leaders in the farm worker movement in Texas and California, respectively. Paul learned that lesson from his father, Cesar Chavez, as he helmed a farm worker movement that transformed the agricultural fields of California through strikes and boycotts. Rebecca learned that lesson as she led the United Farm Workers in Texas to challenge and change state laws that kept farm workers down. Read about how Paul Chavez applies that lesson to the attacks of the Trump administration.

8. Victory for Civic Participation of Spanish Speakers in County Public Meetings

colonia residents organized with LUPE and ARISE won simultaneous Spanish translation of all proceedings at public meetings of the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court. With support from Texas Housers and TRLA, we won the translation service after two years of insisting Hidalgo County follow through with its obligations under federal Civil Rights law. Read more about the victory for civic participation.

7. We Halted Trump’s Plans to Expand Fast-Track Deportations Nationwide

Trump attempted to expand the practice of fast-tracking deportations without a hearing this year, but we beat him back in the courts. Deportation is already devastating, now imagine being ripped from your life without a hearing or a chance to seek relief. That fast-tracking of deportations has been the practice in the border region for years and is what Trump wants to expand nationwide. Border residents have been the victims of so many rights violations under the practice that the federal judge hearing our lawsuit pointed to them when ruling to block Trump’s expansion of the practice nationwide. Read more about our victory for due process.

6. Youth Summer Camp: The Next Generation of Community Leaders

This summer, our San Juan and Alton offices hosted over 50 kids for our annual summer camp. This is the second year our organizing team decided to reach out to the younger members of our base as a way to connect with the next generation of leaders. This year our LUPE leaders wanted to focus the camp on learning about our Mesoamerican and indigenous roots as a way to counter the hate coming from the Trump administration against Mexican immigrants. Read more about our annual summer camp.

5. Election Protection Victory: We Halted Texas’s Purge of Naturalized U.S. Citizens from the Voter Registration Roles

Screenshot of the title page of court ruling granting a temporary order stopping Texas Secretary of State's voter purge.

When Texas Secretary of State announced efforts to purge thousands of voters from the voter registration roles, it quickly became clear that the effort targeted naturalized U.S. Citizens. MALDEF represented LUPE in a lawsuit that eventually resulted in a settlement stopping the purge and protecting voter rights. Read more about the election protection victory.

4. Growing Grassroots Leadership

Volunteer organizers lead neighborhood meeting in Hidalgo County colonia December of 2019

70 colonia residents and immigrant community members develop themselves into community leaders with LUPE’s guidance in 2019. The most devoted of them have joined our team of volunteer organizers, where leaders go from organizing their own colonia to organizing neighboring colonias as well. It’s that practice of collective power that’s won streetlights for six colonias this year.

3. ‘El Sonido del Agua’ Puts Stories of Colonia Organizing to Music

Thanks to El Sonido del Agua project, colonia residents who are organizing to win neighborhood improvements have a conjunto-powered soundtrack to animate and inspire their efforts.

The rhythm of life in Rio Grande Valley colonias is often a polka. Conjunto music is a staple in family and community celebrations. And now, thanks to colonia residents aided by conjunto musicians, residents who are organizing to win neighborhood improvements have a conjunto-powered soundtrack to animate and inspire their efforts. Read more about how we are telling our stories through our music

2. Censo Lote: Using Our Culture to Animate Participation in 2020 Census

“¡YO CUENTO!” “I COUNT!” That’s what players yell when they win a game of Censo Lote — our Census-themed game of Mexican bingo. Trump’s malicious push to include a Citizenship question has soured many immigrants’ views of the decennial count. But we won’t give up on a complete count. That is why we are reaching hard-to-reach immigrant neighborhoods through culture. Read more about how we are using the power of our culture to animate participation in the 2020 Census.

1. Victory: No Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

children hold census outreach materials that say "todo el mundo CUENTA", or "everyone counts"

This year’s biggest victory: stopping Trump’s Census Citizenship question. We challenged the Trump administration’s discriminatory intent to add a citizenship question to the decennial population count and won. Represented by MALDEF, our victory in federal court in Maryland was the third ruling finding the Trump administration violated the Constitution and federal law. Learn more about the victory here.


What an eventful year. We are developing plans to build on that important work in 2020, when the challenges we face will be even bigger. The Census will determine the region’s resources for a decade to come. And the 2020 Elections could determine the direction of the country for a lifetime.

Help us ensure we have the resources to rise to 2020’s challenges. Donate today.

Help fuel more victories in 2020. Make a tax-deductible donation to LUPE today.

Leave a Reply