The monthly Food Not Bomb RGV’s free serving of vegetarian and vegan food will include a brake light clinic and “know your rights” workshop in McAllen on Sept. 30. The brake light clinic will be hosted by the Rio Grande Valley chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA RGV), and the workshop will be facilitated by the Rio Grande Valley Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
The food, clinic, and workshop are free and open to the public.
A broken brake light can lead to an encounter with law enforcement. For undocumented immigrants, what should be a routine stop could end with being detained by immigration agents.
“We are cautious of the threats people face. That’s why we are hosting this,” said Joshua Chapa of the DSA RGV. Chapa said the people who are affected by the Texas SB 4, or the “Show Me Your Papers” law, are in “survival mode.”
Related: For undocumented immigrants in rural areas, a trip to the doctor or grocery store may be too risky
“Everyone knows their situation and what risk they are taking,” said Chapa. “But driving without those brake lights is [also] taking a risk. We’re trying to help people avoid problems that could lead to the disastrous complications that go beyond just the fines [for driving with a broken brake light.]”
The “know your rights” workshop, or Labor Law 101 training, will be a casual discussion facilitated by the IWW. The training will cover topics including minimum wage, overtime, status (if you are undocumented), and what to do if your rights are violated in your workspace.
Roxana Carrion, a member of IWW, said the workshop will be an informal conversation but will provide critical information for workers.
“It’s necessary because no one is teaching this; no one is going to teach us this,” Carrio said. “Wage theft is a huge problem in the Valley. More money is stolen by employers through wage theft than by petty theft. This is not a small problem and of course… if people are benefiting from our ignorance, they are not going to want us to know what we are ignorant about.”
Miriam El-Haj, a member of Food Not Bombs RGV, welcomed the multiple activities happening at the monthly food serving at Archer Park. Food Not Bombs RGV was revamped by Sara Cera, a Pharr resident, in January 2017.
“What Food Not Bombs specifically does is serve free vegetarian and vegan food to the community,” said El-Haj. “Anyone is welcome to bring food and help serve and anyone is welcome to eat. You don’t have to be of any specific status or demographic to come and eat. It’s for everybody.”
Food Not Bombs, which was formed in New Hampshire in the 1980s, was a form of protest against systematic poverty existing in communities.
“[The US] prioritizes going off into war against other countries, and we’re not taking care of people here in this country that maybe can’t have a meal or don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” said El-Haj.
For the event on Sept. 30, El-Haj said to also expect a variety of activities that range every month. Donations like perishable foods, toothbrushes or toothpaste, and clothes vary, but the food is always there.
Community members who are interested in becoming involved in any of the three organizations are encouraged to attend the event.
“If you’re interested in knowing about how to better your workplace; if you’re interested in knowing how to organize; if you’re interested in learning how to change things that you feel are unjust, then you should definitely come out because it’s not just about workplace,” said Carrion, “it’s also about community and building power by coming together because we are all we have.”
The event will take on Sunday, Sept. 30 from 4 PM to 7 PM at Archer Park in McAllen.