St. Mary's Law Journal


David L. Hanna


The horrendous conditions along the Texas-Mexico border stem from factors on both sides of the Rio Grande River, including maquiladoras, migrant farms, poverty, poor land development, and bureaucracy. The adverse living conditions in Texas’s third world border region have resulted in immense health and safety problems. The United States government promised the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would bring new environmental prosperity to the border region. Yet, aside from one sentence in the preamble, NAFTA does not directly address environmental protection. The United States and Mexico, as part of a series of environmental side agreements, created the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADBank) to implement and help finance infrastructure projects along the border. Like the United States, Texas did little to curb Colonia development along the Texas-Mexico border. Attempting to address the problems of the legislation, the Texas Legislature implemented and amended several laws with the goal of halting the expansion of the Colonias region. Colonians have historically been ignored, with Colonians left to eke out an existence as best they can. The President promised NAFTA and the Environmental Side Agreement would bring new environmental prosperity to the border region. Texas promised the Economically Distressed Area Program (EDAP) would stop unscrupulous developers from taking advantage of the poor and desperate laborers along the border. It has not. It is time for Texas to take a stand to eliminate the third world conditions along the Texas-Mexico border. Texas should repeal sections 232.026 and 232.042 of House Bill 1001, repeal section 2306.586(D) of Senate Bill 1509, amend section 232.030 of House Bill 1001, and amend section 232.037 of the Texas Government Code. Finally, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should institute a partnership program and combine the EDAP efforts with those of HUD.


St. Mary's University School of Law