Following national media coverage, Gov. Greg Abbott has included Colony Ridge on the call for Texas’ third special legislative session.
Several lawmakers visited the development late last week as part of a public relations tour put together by the developers. Democrat State. Rep. Christina Morales of Houston told The Center Square there was “nothing alarming” about the development.
The day before lawmakers visited, a 16-year-old male was arrested for robbing, assaulting, and kidnapping another teen in Colony Ridge.
Colony Ridge is a housing development in Liberty County, northeast of Houston, specifically marketed to illegal aliens. It has been gaining attention for its strain on local resources and increasingly violent crime.
Terrenos Houston, the marketing program for Colony Ridge, advertises to illegal aliens by indicating they do not require traditional bank loans, Social Security numbers, or a proven job history to apply. Instead, the company operates through owner-financed lots for illegal aliens who don’t qualify for certain loans.
Late last month, the Texas GOP passed a resolution calling for action on the settlement. Texas’ Republican congressional representatives have also called attention to the development and asked the governor and attorney general to investigate and address the concerns surrounding the development.
Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Babin’s congressional district includes Liberty County. He recently released an op-ed saying, “Colony Ridge has been an enormous concern since I learned of its existence shortly after taking the oath of office in 2015 – frankly, keeping me awake many nights since.”
Various reports indicate that crime and violence have increased (including a cartel presence), wastewater contamination is flowing into bayous and drainage ditches, inadequate mitigation systems are causing widespread flooding, and an overwhelming burden now rests on existing infrastructure in the area – including schools, emergency services, roads, and more – and this is just a small glimpse into the state of affairs in Colony Ridge.
Due to the aforementioned issues as well as national attention, Abbott has included on the third special session call: “Legislation concerning public safety, security, environmental quality, and property ownership in areas like the Colony Ridge development in Liberty County, Texas.”
State Reps. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands), Nate Schatzline (R–Fort Worth), Brian Harrison (R–Midlothian), and Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) have created a plan they say will address cartel activity in the area.
They propose budgeting state money to establish a Department of Public Safety substation in Liberty County, thereby multiplying the law enforcement presence in the Colony Ridge community.
Additionally, they asked that the governor consider including legislation in the special session call to place Liberty County under a state conservatorship if warranted.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation has been studying the effects of Colony Ridge since 2020.
According to the TPPF study by former Senior Director of Engagement and Right On Immigration Ken Oliver, Liberty County can participate in “the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s 287(g) program or Warrant Service Officer (WSO) program. These programs enable commonsense cooperation between local and federal jurisdictions in immigration law enforcement (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, n.d.). Participating 287(g) officers and WSO officers, for example, serve administrative warrants and execute arrests on behalf of ICE, but only within the confines of the jails where they work.”
Oliver also recommended “an increased law enforcement presence by the Liberty County Sheriff ’s Office, along with strict enforcement of the covenants of the Houston El Norte Property Owners Association.”
He also advised state and county officials to “strictly enforce applicable business licensing requirements.”
The third special legislative session began Monday, October 9.