By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The residents needed to involve themselves in the political process. Going door to door, he began urging those who were U.S. citizens to register to vote and attend county commissioners meetings. "We simply needed to let people holding the purse strings know we were here," he says.
"When I first took office in 1995," Judge Hinojosa says, "there were less than 50 votes that came out of Cameron Park. In the last county election, 900 of its 1,400 registered voters went to the polls." Those numbers, he says, are proof there is a new awareness and determination in the colonia.
A few blocks away, 17-year-old Erica is on her way home, an ever-present book under her arm. An excellent student, the personable young woman aspires to one day continue her education at the college level. But the barriers of the colonia stand in her way. She, like her mother and sister, are in the United States illegally. They live in a two-room camper, subsisting on the $100 per week that her mother earns as a maid and cook for a Brownsville family.
Erica, for all her promise, is a non-person in the country where she has resided since she was 7 years old. She has no Social Security number, no paper that says she is an American citizen, no birthright to seek scholarship help. And because of that it is all too likely that she has nowhere to go. The two young women tell the story of Cameron Park, its dilemma and its hope.