Several members of Congress toured “Colonia” near the southern border near McAllen, Texas on Friday, calling for a “third world situation” in the United States, spokesman Vicente Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, D-Texas, led the event in his district with the House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness Growth. Committee Chair Jim Himms, de-Con., And Reps. He also conducted field hearings with Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Jody Arrington, R-Texas and others.
Residents of the Indian Hills Colonial Settlement and other places like it live in extreme poverty, often a little more than huts. Built in rural areas near the Mexican border with little control, most colonies lack running water, sewage treatment, broadband and other vital infrastructure.
“We have American citizens living in this country in third world conditions,” Gonzalez told Fox News Digital. “Even if we spend trillions of dollars on infrastructure and in this country, we must guarantee that they will not lag behind and that we will raise their standards to the rest of the world, to other parts of the country.”
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Local residents and officials said the problems include other major barriers beyond just sanitation, affecting how people can move forward in life. Most colonies do not have paved roads. For most of South Texas, the colonies are struggling with flooding due to inadequate irrigation infrastructure. During those floods, poorly constructed colony houses often take in water, which poses health hazards to residents.
Connie Villanueva, a local resident and former board member of the Monte Alto ISD school, told the committee members on Friday at the roundtable that the lack of broadband had made it far worse for children in Colonia to have remote learning than their peers elsewhere.
You can give kids a mobile hotspot for remote learning, but it’s like the old days of dial-up ‘because cell service was poor, “Villanueva said.
Villanueva said dirty roads are also hurting children’s education.
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“Our buses collide,” she said. “Children do not come to school for days or weeks due to road drains or drying up.”
Another problem highlighted by some community members is that dirt roads slow down emergency vehicles and dust can cause sinus problems in young children.
Hims said the federal government needs to adjust its funding principles to ensure that communities such as the incorporated colonies in South Texas get the resources they need to move into the 21st century.
“Some very poor counties receive no care [Act] Money because they have to pay back. But in reality, they do not have the cash to cover the costs in the first place, “he said.” This is something we need to address. “
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“What I’m arguing in Washington is finding ways to ensure that the money goes directly to the communities that need it and does not have to go through state governments or county governments,” Gonzalez said of one of his proposed solutions. “We need to find ways to get resources directly to municipalities and families directly affected.”
Cameron County Commissioner David Garza, meanwhile, highlighted the McAllen area in southern Texas as the largest metropolitan area in the US with no direct access to the interstate. This will cripple its economy and further jeopardize its ability to receive federal funding, he said at a select committee hearing.
“Many times our projects do not compete because grant funds are measured on the same scale as urban projects,” Garza said. “For the past 40, 50 years it has been difficult to compete with areas that are interstate.”
Republicans, meanwhile, have spoken out against what they say is a bloated federal bureaucracy that makes it harder to get federal dollars for infrastructure projects in South Texas. They allege that the lack of border security has diverted resources in South Texas, which could improve the lives of locals.
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“How do we underwrite that project, how do you sponsor it in Oklahoma City and how do you underwrit it in New York City, how do you sponsor it in Miami,” Rep said. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Said. “They’m all different areas, but they’re trying to use things like these big buckets.”
“I think we really need to explore how the federal government can partner with local areas to meet this need,” Style said of the devastating floods in the colonies. “Millions of dollars will be spent on flood infrastructure.”
“Instead, what I was most disappointed to hear from those here was that the federal government and local resources … needed to address a different crisis,” Style continued. “And the porous border between the state of Texas and cities across the Rio Grande Valley costs millions of dollars every year.”