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Rio Grande Valley first-time voters, undocumented residents driving record turnout ahead of Harris visit
By LUPE, October 29, 2020

Meet the RGV residents who are helping to drive the region’s record-breaking early turnout.

Sen. Kamala Harris' visit to McAllen, TX Friday is a testament to how unprecedented turnout in the Rio Grande Valley could shape the outcome of races up and down the ballot.

The RGV hosts some of the communities that have been most heavily impacted by the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant policies and by the state’s coronavirus pandemic. It also had some of the lowest voter turnout rates among major counties in the 2016 election.

But with 5 days until the election, there are clear signs that Rio Grande Valley residents are striking back against Covid and the inequalities that fueled its rapid spread here. Early vote has seen record turnout in Texas counties with some of the state’s highest rates of Covid, and residents from all walks of life are engaging and voting for the first time.

Below are stories of six Rio Grande Valley residents with diverse backgrounds and immigration statuses who are helping to drive the region’s record-breaking early turnout.

Jude is one of the youth voters driving historic turnout in the Rio Grande Valley and Texas. He and his mom, Elizabeth, voted last week. He‘s voting for affordable education and healthcare.

Yadira Gonzalez and Leo Santana – husband is a first-time voter and wife is phone banking with LUPE to get out the vote

Yadria Gonzalez is an active LUPE member who has been phone banking South Texas voters in a similar place as her husband, who was eligible to vote in 2016 but sat out the election. She has made hundreds of calls and convinced dozens of voters to vote. But the most meaningful of her successes was convincing her husband to vote.

Yadria’s husband Leo Santana has been eligible to vote for years but never registered. This year, after complications with Yadria’s immigration status had them making trips to an immigration attorney, he finally decided to register and vote. He hopes better representation will result in immigration reform and expanded access to health care that will give his family more stability.

Raquel Chavez – LUPE member getting out the vote whose dad and brother died of Covid

Raquel’s dad and brother recently died of Covid. She came as an immigrant to the US. She can’t believe that such a rich and powerful nation would allow so many people to die. She knows that immigrants and workers contribute the resources that make this nation rich. Those resources should go to the services Raquel and her community need to be healthy and thrive. That means healthcare for all, regardless of financial or immigration status.

Victor Hernandez – immigrant youth with DACA

Victor runs a small restaurant to support his family. He pours his heart into his business so that he has enough to support his parents. Because of DACA, he has a driver’s license and protection from deportation. During the pandemic, he has lost business and there are days when the restaurant is closed. But every day he spends time cleaning, organizing, and preparing food so that when things recorver the restaurant will be ready to serve his clientele with the same quality and dedication as before. His drive comes from his family. He says that every child has a part of his parents in him and so he wants to give back to his parents.

The future of DACA will be determined by this election. No party or politician should have the power to determine our future. We need to win the power to decide how we live and thrive. We are voting to defend DACA and win a border region where families can remain together and thrive. Our undocumented family and neighbors need work permits, driver’s licenses, and protection from deportation.

Mother Elizabeth Marquez and son Jude Thaddeus Rodriguez – voted together, was his first time voting

Jude grew up seeing his mother working two minimum wage jobs. He and his voting-age siblings know that their participation in elections means a lot to their mom and her struggle to provide for them. He feels this election is the best chance to win affordable education and healthcare for all.

Get involved at lupenet.org/GOTV

Voters are invited to visit LUPENET.ORG/GOTV to find their nearest polling location. Voters can also check if they are registered to vote, sign up to volunteer as a virtual canvasser or poll monitor, and access their sample ballot.

LUPE is organizing colonia residents, new Citizens, new voters, and other high-potential voters across South Texas to shift the balance of power this November. By showing up and voting, we win protections for DACA, defend our community from border walls, and open new avenues for investing in healthcare for all, streetlights and flooding protections, fair and just immigration processes, and dignified wages.

La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) is a community organization based in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. More posts


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