For 10 years a non-profit organization has been fighting by means of education and social inclusion for the well-being of low-income and undocumented Hispanics who live in the towns of South Texas.
La Union del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE, founded in 2003, currently has more than 5,000 active members.
Juanita Valdez-Cox, general director of LUPE, says the organization was established in 1989 in California by United Farm Workers founders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
The UFW began defending the rights of immigrants in South Texas back in the 1970s, she said.
"And while they accomplished a lot, there's still much to do, and that's why LUPE was started a decade ago. Since then we've fought so that communities made up specifically of the poor and the undocumented can have paved highways, clean drinking water and street lighting, something still undone in many places," Valdez-Cox said.
That's were LUPE goes into action, with branches in San Juan and four other towns of the Lower Rio Grande Valley that offer English classes, legal help with permanent immigration applications or just information on refinancing their mortgages.
LUPE, together with dozens of civic organizations, have filed lawsuits against businesses in the region for violating minimum-wage regulations and demanding payment of the amounts unlawfully withheld.
"In recent years more than 200 cases of wage theft have been documented that have added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is disastrous for the well-being of workers and their families. These are honest people who contribute to the local economy," Valdez-Cox said.
In 2011, thanks to the efforts of LUPE, the state legislature passed a $175 million bill for the construction of highways and the improvement of streets in the poor, marginalized neighborhoods of South Texas. EFE