By David Luna, Executive Director
I’m writing from the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, where Equal Voice Action members and allies are on the front lines fighting to protect immigrant families and communities.
Here, colonias, or unincorporated neighborhoods largely populated by immigrant families, extend throughout the rural plains of the valley. This region is home to some of the largest concentrations of such communities in all of Texas.
The painful, ongoing crisis stemming from the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy has focused the world’s attention on this valley as families and communities grapple with the consequences of violent anti-immigrant action.
Running alongside the northern edge of the Rio Grande, this border region has long represented safety and opportunity for so many of those fleeing violence and deep poverty in their native countries.
The promise of refuge, and the chance for a new life, now lie under the dark shadow of an anti-immigrant agenda that has made criminals of asylum seekers, and brought fear and senseless disruption to local communities.
These counterproductive policies, still shifting and uncertain in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, have come with a profound human cost.
We’ve seen photos of caged children. We’ve heard recordings of the cries of the detained, and heard the cruel threats made to them by detention center staff. And we know that so many young ones remain torn from their families, lost in a system that should have never been in place.
More troubling still, we don’t know what comes next.
In the face of these deep wrongs and painful questions, we seek ways to stand up and speak out with strength and dignity.
This is why we fast.
La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), a community union founded by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, continues to be a leader in protecting and empowering immigrant families and their communities in the Rio Grande Valley and nationwide.
Partnering with Neta, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and fellow RGV Equal Voice Network ally American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, LUPE is hosting a 24-day hunger strike and prayer chain to honor the more than 2,400 children separated from their families, and to oppose the inhumane immigration policies put forth by the current administration.
This collaborative effort recalls the legacy of LUPE’s co-founder Cesar Chavez, who used fasting as a tool to oppose violence with peaceful protest. His work lives on in the efforts of LUPE and in the spirit of collective voice, action, and empowerment that fuels this movement.
Members of my own family first settled in Texas after immigrating to this country in search of a better life and future. Such an opportunity has been a blessing for my family, and millions of other families, in this nation of immigrants.
As I fast, I pray that more families have the same opportunity.
To learn more about the Break Bread, Not Families hunger strike and prayer chain hosted by LUPE, Neta, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, visit breakbreadnotfamilies.org.