Lawmakers to highlight humanitarian crisis at border ‘colonias’ at South Texas hearing

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A congressional committee will hold the current congressional ground’s first hearing on the southern border on Friday, highlighting a humanitarian crisis on the US side of the border.

The Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Growth Equity, chaired by Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., will visit “colonias” near McAllen, Texas, in the district of committee member Rep. Vicente Gonzalez , D-Texas.

Rep.  Jim Himes, R-Conn., chairman of the Special Committee on Economic Disparity &;  Equity in Growth, speaks at a hearing.  The select committee is on tour impoverished "colonies" near the southern border on Friday.
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Rep. Jim Himes, R-Conn., chairman of the Special Committee on Economic Disparity &; Equity in Growth, speaks at a hearing. On Friday, the select committee is on tour in the poor “colonias” near the southern border.
(House Special Committee on Economic Disparity and Growth Equity)

Settlements are poor neighborhoods or settlements, which often lack running water, sewage treatment or other basic infrastructure. They are very common in Texas, mainly near the border with Mexico. Although some residents of these colonies are not US citizens, according to Pew Charitable Trusts, a very large number are or are documented in some way.

“We show places where American citizens live in the United States of America in third world conditions,” Gonzalez told Fox News Digital. “If you look at the average household income, it’s less than $15,000 a year. And that’s tragic and I’m proud to bring members to see it for themselves. So when we go back to Washington, we will be able to make decisions that work for all Americans.”

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Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, represents a southern Texas district that borders Mexico and is home to many poor "colony" communities.  The House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Growth Equity is holding a hearing on the ground Friday on those colonias.

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, represents a southern Texas district that borders Mexico and is home to many poor “colonia” communities. The House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Growth Equity is holding a hearing on the ground Friday on those colonias.
(Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Growth Equity)

The commission hearing is expected to focus on how to improve infrastructure in unincorporated settlements.

Members will meet with settlement residents and local officials as they seek to “highlight practical approaches – from the federal to the local level – to improving roads, improving drainage infrastructure and expanding broadband access” .

The border visit comes as US officials grapple with migrants crossing the southern border in record numbers, often fleeing poverty and poor humanitarian conditions abroad. But Himes told Fox News Digital that conditions in the colonies, which are essentially disconnected from the modern world, show that you don’t have to look beyond our borders to find abject poverty.

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“These settlements are in some ways defined by the fact that they’re literally not connected to infrastructure. You know, a lot of them don’t have clean water, let alone broadband,” said said Himes.

“We are a very wealthy country and the pockets of poverty that we have,” he also said, “it kind of challenges us.”

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Meanwhile, select GOP committee members, including Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Kat Cammack, R-Fla., and Stephanie Bice, R-Okla., will also visit the border near the Rio Grande with Texas. Department of Public Security (DPS).

During a Thursday evening visit to the border, these three Republicans witnessed the arrest of several migrants, including a girl who had been to the United States before and was fluent in English.

Republicans point to the massive influx of migrants at the border, including nearly 240,000 encounters by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in May, which they say are President Biden’s fault.

Federal and state law enforcement are sending reinforcements to the southern border as CBP border encounters nearly hit 240,000 in May.

Federal and state law enforcement are sending reinforcements to the southern border as CBP border encounters nearly hit 240,000 in May.
(Eddie Seal/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

They often warn of the dangers of human trafficking, drugs and international criminal organizations entering the United States Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Equity in Growth Ranking Brian Steil, R -Wis., tweeted Thursday that he will “discuss the border crisis and fentanyl” during his visit on Friday.

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In addition to stretching federal resources, the record number of border crossings is also straining state law enforcement. Hotels near McAllen are full of large numbers of Texas law enforcement personnel participating in Operation Lone Star on the orders of Governor Greg Abbott.

Agencies participating in this operation for Texas include the Texas Game Warden, Texas National Guard and more.

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