Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network







Michael Seifert


Christina Patiño Houle

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The Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network (also known by the Spanish name Voces Unidas) is an organization based in South Texas that advocates for low-income families and immigrants. It advocates for laws with city and county governments, state legislatures, and sometimes with Congress.


The Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network (RGV–EVN, or Voces Unidas) began in 2009 in an effort to promote completion of the 2010 Census in immigrant and poor communities. The network voiced concerns about political representation and how federal funds would be distributed. 1

At the time, ten organizations in South Texas made up the network. The organization was inspired by the national Equal Voice for America’s Family campaign. The RGV-EVN assured that 16,000 border area residents were counted in the 2010 Census. 2

As of 2019, member organizations of Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network include the ACLU of Texas, The Texas Civil Rights Project, Big Cities Health Coalition, ARISE, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), Proyecto Azteca, Fuerza Del Valle, and Proyecto Juan Diego. 3

The group focuses on the issues of housing, health care, labor and education for immigrants. 4

The leader of the organization is Christina Patiño Houle, whose official title is “Network Weaver.” Some news accounts refer to her as the “director,” while others refer to her as a “spokeswoman.” The organization’s communications strategist is Michelle Serrano. 5

Immigration Advocacy

The network established immigration working groups to challenge Trump administration policies in border communities. The organization has also advocated for drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants. On the federal level, it has advocated for the DREAM Act, which would bestow legal status to certain illegal immigrants brought to the United States while they were children. 6

The organization assists asylum seekers at ports of entry, opposes the proposed “border wall” as one of a number of “unnecessary and costly projects that intimidate border communities and stifle infrastructure development,” and demands “humanitarian and legally established processes for immigrant detainees.” 7

The organization has aligned with environmentalist groups in Texas to oppose the construction of a border wall8

Upon the news in April 2019 that year-to-date apprehensions of illegal border crossers had already surpassed all of 2018, RGV-EVN communication strategist Serrano blamed border enforcement. “The increase is happening because we all of a sudden drastically decreased how we’re allowing people to come in through legal means.” 9

Census Advocacy

Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network asked city and county governments in South Texas to write a letter to members of Congress demanding more funding for the 2020 U.S. Census out of concern their region will be undercounted than the Trump administration requested. 10

The group’s leader, Patiño Houle, claimed the Trump administration’s planned citizenship question on the 2020 Census, would be a “weapon against the most disenfranchised communities in the U.S.” She claimed the proposal “created a ton of fear in our community.” 11

Opposing the Trump Administration

The group participated in a demonstration along with various other leftwing groups in January 2019 when President Donald Trump visited the Rio Grande Valley. 12

Returning somewhat to its roots, the network joined a coalition of left-wing groups to oppose the nomination of Kathy Kraninger to serve as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 13

In April 2019, the network was among 41 liberal groups that signed onto a letter sent to the CEOs of all the Fortune 500 companies calling for them to blacklist current and former Trump administration officials. The letter singled out 30 individuals and demands that the companies “make it clear that you will not hire for employment, contract for consulting, or seat on your boards.” 14

Critique of the Biden Administration

April 2021, the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, along with La Unión del Pueblo Entero and Texas Civil Rights Project, released a “Progress Report Card” which criticized the Biden administration’s first 100 days in office for not striking down several immigration policies set by the previous Trump administration. Such policies include construction of the southern border wall as well as funding for border patrols and U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budgets.15The report continues by stating, “We don’t need any more symbolic action. We need tangible results. We’re not grading him on his promises but rather on our needs”.16


  1. Marguerite Casey Foundation Annual Report 2009. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  2. Marguerite Casey Foundation Annual Report 2009. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  3. Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  4. Mission. Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  5. Contact. Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  6. Immigrants’ Rights. Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network
  7. Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  8. Yachnin, Jennifer. “In Texas Borderlands, Wall Fight Hinges on Nuance.” E&E News. April 8, 2019. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  9. Rodriguez, Marlene. “Border Patrol Apprehensions in RGV Surpass all of 2018.” KVEO. April 23, 2019. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  10. Martinez, Patricia. “RGB Equal Voice Network Concerned About 2020 Census.” October 27, 2017. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  11. Zazueta-Castro, Lorenzo. “Federal Judge Rules Against Citizenship Question.” The (McAllen) Monitor. January 15, 2019. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  12. Garcia, Berenice. “Activist Groups Prepare for Presidential Visit.” The (McAllen) Monitor. January 9, 2019. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  13. Press Release. “Kathy Kraninger’s Role in Family Separation Debacle at Southern Border Disqualifies Her to Serve as CFPB Director, More Than 100 Groups Tell U.S. Senate.” Center for American Progress. November 27, 2018. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  14. Rantala, Victor. “Punishing Trumpers: Full-Page NY Times Ad Asks CEOs to Blacklist Anyone Working for POTUS.” BizzPacReview. April 8, 2019. Accessed June 13, 2019.
  15. John Michael Torres, Norma Herrera and Roberto Lopez. “Torres, Herrera, Lopez: Biden’s First 100 Days? He Is Failing South Texans.” Rio Grande Guardian, May 2, 2021.
  16. Hi, Dani Marrero. “South Texas Report Card: Biden’s First 100 Days.” LUPE, May 25, 2021.
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Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network