Colonia rights 

Colonia Rights

Colonia residents work hard to make their neighborhoods places where their families can thrive. We guide them by providing leadership development and strategic direction.


We are fighting for communities where the resources we pitch in together go to the services we really need. A future where all neighborhoods have streetlights, flooding protection, quality homes, and broadband internet access.

The term “colonia” is used to describe rural, unincorporated subdivisions along the Texas-Mexico border. Colonias are characterized by sub-standard housing, inadequate plumbing and sewage disposal systems, and inadequate access to clean water. They are highly concentrated poverty pockets that are physically and legally isolated from neighboring cities. LUPE offices are located through satellite structures in key colonia areas so our impact is broad.

For many years, disinterested elected officials dismissed colonia residents. They looked the other way while shady developers proliferated unincorporated subdivisions with little to no regulations.

But colonia residents have never given up their dignity. And organizers and advocates have tirelessly organized alongside them to demand the most basic infrastructure.

LUPE has instilled hope and pride among the residents of colonias and in the Rio Grande Valley. House meeting after house meeting, campaign after campaign, LUPE has organized a membership base of over 6,000 members, 1,000 active leaders and 50+ Colonia Committees. This has created a tremendous list of accomplishments.

During UFW’s time in Texas, union members came together to create the affordable self-help housing organization, Proyecto Azteca, with the help of Texas Rural Legal Aid and Texas Low Income Housing. Other accomplishments include advocacy against unlawful ICE raids in colonias, advocacy against the Border Wall that anti-immigrant forces want to build between Mexico and the US in solidarity with No Border Wall, delegations to RGV police chiefs on the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs and the mistrust police/ICE collaboration causes between local police and Latino communities (which resulted in local precincts rejecting participation in 287(g) program and accepting LUPE ID as a valid form of identification), and community organizing to pass a state bill allowing the installation of colonia street lights through the use of county funds and resident fees.

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