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The Forgotten Americans

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Fact Sheet

  • There are more than 1,500 colonias in the United States near the border with Mexico.

  • Approximately 500,000 people live in Third World conditions in the colonias in the United States.

  • The colonia population is predominantly Hispanic, but 64.4 percent of all colonia residents under 18 years of age were born in the United States.

  • Colonia families cope with the highest unemployment rates in America -- more than 20 percent.

  • The income for employed colonia residents is between $3,000 and $6,000.

  • A typical colonia household has five to six residents.

  • The average home in a colonia takes five to seven years to be completed.

  • Approximately 30 to 40 percent of colonia houses lack adequate heating and cooling systems.

  • Flooding is a major threat to more than 90 percent of colonia residents.

  • The longitudinal dropout rate for secondary colonia students in Texas averages 17.3 percent, compared to an estimated Texas state average of 14.4 percent.

  • Less than one percent of colonia children attend college or university.

  • The University of Texas Systems Texas-New Mexico Border Health Office reported the following rates of selected viral diseases in colonia residents per 100,000 population:
    • Hepatitis A: 50.3
    • Salmonellosis: 21.3
    • Shigellosis: 18.0
    • Tuberculosis: 28.1

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