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Texas Grad

MAGINE A SCENARIO where hundreds of children cannot attend school because the roads by their homes are impassable. Or that these children are so ill from recurring ailments that they continue to miss school over protracted periods of time. The ailments they suffer, such as dysentery, typhoid, diarrhea, tuberculosis, cholera, and even leprosy, keep them out of school and severely hinder their progress in elementary school. It sounds like a story from the Third World, but it's not. It's happening right here on Texas soil, up and down the 900 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. The children who live in colonias, subdivisions that lack basic infrastructure such as potable water and sewage disposal, live in conditions that most of us would consider a public health menace. Border Attorneys General Meet in El Paso In March, we at the Office of the Texas Attorney General, together with the National Association of Attorneys General, held a conference in El Paso to address the public health issues created by the living conditions in colonias. Also at issue was how to apply legal remedies to quell the proliferation of these illegal subdivisions and solve the economic and public health issues faced by border-area counties with large concentrations of colonias. Conference participants included the attorneys general of New Mexico, Tennessee and Arizona, as well as representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and local health officials and community leaders. Entitled "Niños de las Colonias," (Children of the Colonias), the conference included a tour of the College Park colonia, located about 40 miles east of El Paso. Members of the 27 families that live in the colonia told us that their children must walk almost two miles to catch a school bus, on a road where broken bottles, dangerous insects and poisonous snakes are a common sight. The residents inquir...

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