Facts from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville
Half of the people living in the region are below 25 years of age. Hispanics account for 85% of the population, 85% are Roman Catholic...
In terms of population size and its relationship to economic development, the region is among the poorest in the United States. According to data provided by the Texas Employment Commission and the United States Census Bureau, unemployment rates for the Rio Grande Valley remain in the teens, with some areas in Starr and Willacy Counties having rates well into the twenty percentile range.
Indeed, the poverty which is prevalent here hampers effective evangelization efforts. Much of the area is agricultural and rural. There are over 200 residential settlements known as "colonias" throughout the Valley. These colonias resemble third world shanty towns with their lack of running water, sewage systems, electricity and paved roads. The extreme poverty of the area has given rise to other social problems that the Church must attempt to address. Many of our Valley youth have turned to a life of drug abuse and crime. There is a higher incidence of disease and birth defects in this region due to the sometimes unaffordable or nonexistent health care and pollution of the environment.