EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – After driving four days along the Texas-Mexico border, members of a coalition of nine civil rights organizations say they’re finding communities with many unmet needs.

The Frontera Texas Organizing Caravan set off from El Paso on May 1 and plans to arrive in Brownsville on May 17, stopping along the way to talk to locals and put on civil rights seminars.

The coalition put on “Know your rights” presentations in Fabens, Fort Hancock and Presidio, and visited the West Texas Detention Center in Sierra Blanca and gathered donated food to distribute to needy families along their route.

“We have gone through very poor and demoralized communities with multiple issues impacting them, from (lack of) economic development to immigration,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of El Paso’s Border Network for Human Rights, a caravan organizer. “Presidio is a big concern with migrants crossing through that horrific desert and dying in numbers we did not expect.”

Frontera Texas Organizing Caravan participants gather food donations in Sierra Blanca, Texas. (Courtesy BNHR)
Frontera Texas Organizing Caravan members visit the West Texas Detention Center near Sierra Blanca, Texas. (courtesy BNHR)

The groups that include BNHR, Casa Proyecto Libertad and La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), are concerned about what they say is a pattern of civil and human rights abuses in immigrant communities in Texas, particularly those with a large presence of border agents and those where Operation Lone Star is in force. The latter is part of Abbott’s efforts to safeguard the state amid a rising number of migrant apprehensions.

Texas has spent billions on Operation Lone Star, which includes maintaining the state National Guard on the border, and other border safety initiatives.

The activists say they’re saddened to see so much tax money go toward law enforcement in peaceful border communities that could instead use that funding to meet basic needs and improve the quality of life of its residents.

“It’s very sad and unfortunate so much money is being spent on immigrant enforcement in the state while at the same time we find communities and towns with no potable water, no electricity, with no health clinics and no schools along the Texas border,” Garcia said.

The caravan was in Del Rio on Thursday with Eagle Pass next on the schedule.