Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently took an aerial tour of a suspected community of unlawful migrants outside of Houston ahead of a special legislative session that might take up the matter.
Known as the Colony Ridge development, the so-called “colonia” allegedly harbors somewhere between 50,000 and 75,000 people who entered the United States unlawfully, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
An investigation by Current Revolt also documented the development, noting that people have been lodging complaints against it for nearly a decade, claiming it is being used to settle unlawful migrants. There have also been reports of individuals dumping waste into local rivers and ponds.
The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) explained, “Colonias are substandard housing developments, often found along the Texas-Mexico border, where residents lack basic services such as drinking water, sewage treatment, and paved roads.”
While several laws exist to prevent colonias from forming, the OAG noted, “Some of the major laws apply only in the border areas or in ‘economically distressed’ counties with high unemployment and low per capita income.”
The OAG also keeps a database of known colonias within the border region, but it does not publicly track colonias in the interior parts of the state.
“I wanted to see it for myself,” Patrick said in a press release. “On Monday, I had [the Department of Public Safety] fly me over the community with a local officer who knew the layout. I also drove much of it and had a thorough briefing with local law enforcement.”
“It’s a massive development covering around 50 square miles and growing,” he continued. “… It’s the fastest-growing and biggest housing development I have seen anywhere in Texas.”
“I spoke with the developer … and he estimates nearly 40,000 people live there now,” Patrick said. “… At the current pace that Colony Ridge is selling lots, [he] told me the community could surpass 100,000 residents in 8-10 years and have the potential to grow to over 200,000 people over time.”
Patrick noted that some reports have claimed the colonia is attracting unlawful migrants from all over the world.
“With the Biden administration allowing millions of people to cross the Texas border, many ask if this community is going to become its own enclave with a population bigger than a mid-size city inside the state of Texas,” he said.
Patrick added that the law enforcement presence in the area needs to be bolstered and that Gov. Greg Abbott had said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality should investigate potential environmental issues.
“The governor and I have talked about holding hearings on Colony Ridge in a few weeks when we convene our special session on school choice,” Patrick concluded.
Still, concerns over Abbott’s relationship with Colony Ridge’s developer have been raised. According to Transparency USA, the developer in question, William Harris, has donated $1.4 million since 2020 to Abbott’s campaign.
As the crisis at the southern border continues to rage, more Texas lawmakers are calling for border security to be added to future special sessions so that the issue can be properly addressed after key bills failed in the House during the regular session.