Politics and the Perpetuation of Poverty in Arizona Colonias

Alma Alvarez-Smith


In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the Cranston-Gonzales National Affordable Housing Act (NAHA), the first federal legislation to acknowledge the existence and needs of the colonias along the Southwestern border. NAHA provided an official definition of colonias and mandating federal funding for infrastructural improvements in the border communities.1 Sadly, nineteen years after this legislation became law, and despite dedicated federal funding, colonia residents continue to suffer in conditions that can only be compared with those of underdeveloped countries.

This study examines the disparity between the purpose of the NAHA legislation and the resulting policy implementation, exploring the role of benevolent rhetoric in the lack of effective implementation of the legislation's stated purpose. With a focus on the colonias of Arizona, this study examines why some colonias are positively affected, while others are detrimentally impacted.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229