Colony Ridge: Haven for illegal immigrants in Texas

Thanks to an in-depth investigative report by the Daily Wire, the existence of a huge community of illegal immigrants has been exposed. It is hiding in plain sight.

The community is called Colony Ridge and it is located in Plum Grove, Texas. Plum Grove is a small town in Liberty County and is north of Houston. 

This is a huge story and Republican voters should be outraged because Republican lawmakers, including Governor Abbott, are dragged into it. The development of Colony Ridge is sprawling and growing.

Located in Liberty County, Texas near the small town of Plum Grove, the Colony Ridge development is a sprawling community that, based on an analysis of publicly available information, is now over 60 square miles and nearly the size of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. Its population is estimated to be anywhere between 50,000 to 75,000, and it is growing rapidly thanks to a marketing plan targeted at Texas’ hispanic population.

Houses on the ground fly the flags of foreign countries and many homes display their addresses on spray painted pieces of plywood. Many structures, some of which are not hooked up to running water, were under construction, while others were unfinished but didn’t appear to be actively getting worked on. At least one plot of land didn’t have any structures at all, just a tent in the corner, nestled between shrubs. Stray dogs without collars could be seen trotting along the side of the underdeveloped streets.

But despite what appears to be poor living conditions throughout much of the development, Colony Ridge is exploding. The view from the sky revealed a sprawling labyrinth of roundabouts and endless rows of sidewalkless streets, with empty plots waiting to be developed. The edges of the property are dotted with construction vehicles, each one tasked with cutting and clearing the surrounding forest to make way for yet more growth.

Marketing for the community is almost exclusively in Spanish. Colony Ridge is owned and operated by a developer, William “Trey” Harris. It is expanding so rapidly because of the unique financing arrangements made so that it is possible for an illegal alien to buy land in Texas. Re-read that sentence. Illegal aliens are buying land in Texas. Financing does not require credit ratings or proof of income. Buyers are able to work around traditional requirements, even avoiding providing a social security number. Buyers can get a deal with as little as a few hundred dollars as down payment. The loan is from the developer, not a bank like for a traditional mortgage. Interest rates can be as high as 15% but if someone has no other option for home ownership, it is one way to purchase a home.

The company does business as Terrenos Houston. That translates to Houston Land. On its Instagram account, one post includes a caption written in Spanish that reads “Still renting? Own land in the United States!”

Potential buyers use Whatsapp, an app used by millions of people who communicate internationally. It operates using an internet connection and bypasses traditional international calling restrictions and fees. Many of the development’s employees seem to be foreign nationals living in Colombia and other Latin American countries.

Thanks to the Biden border crisis, the development is experiencing its greatest boom ever. Harris and his attorney claim that there is no advertising outside the United States. There has been pushback from Harris on the description of Colony Ridge as the “largest illegal alien settlement in Texas.” Harris acknowledges that since Social Security numbers are not required, buyers can use whatever form of identification they have – a Texas driver’ license, state ID, passports, etc. Harris explains that there is nothing illegal in a noncitizen buying land in the United States. Property developers are not legally required to check immigration status. That responsibility belongs to the federal government.

There is very little law enforcement in the community. This encourages illegal aliens to settle there. Todd Bensman, a National Security Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, said law enforcement is struggling to keep up.

“There’s very thin law enforcement presence in that area,” he added. “It’s appealing because they plan to live and work illegally. That means that they probably have to break a whole lot of different kinds of laws in order to buy vehicles and drive the vehicles and maybe show documents to potential employers. When people buy here, they’re buying peace of mind from law enforcement.”

The Liberty County Sheriff’s office said its officers do not check immigration status in routine stops because it “would take forever.” Immigration status is only checked when investigating violent crimes.

So, how is this happening in the red state of Texas with a border security hawk like Governor Greg Abbott in office? It helps if the developer of the community contributes to Republicans in office, apparently. Some Republican lawmakers appear to know about the development and that raises the question – why isn’t something being done to stop it?

Republican congressman Brian Babin, who represents a neighboring Texas district and also recently surveyed the development by helicopter, says Colony Ridge has doubled in size in recent years and is concerned about cartel activity.

“It was very concerning to fly over it. It’s got an enormous footprint. In the three years since I last saw it, it looks like it’s pretty much doubled in size,” Babin told The Daily Wire. “There is word that the cartels are playing a role in this area.”

Representative Babin is not the only one concerned about potential cartel activity in the area. Members of law enforcement in the area explained that members of the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels had invested in Colony Ridge properties early on in order to set up safe houses for human and drug smuggling operations, Bensman reports in his book.

“The Mexican cartels are very active in that they run safe houses, they run drugs, they do marijuana grows, they commit crimes,” Bensman explained, citing conversations he’s had with law enforcement. “This is a homeland security issue. It’s a public safety issue.”

Is a blind eye being turned to cartel activity? It is reported that cartel activity has increased since 2010 in Liberty County.

In order for all the illegal activity and this huge development to continue to thrive just outside of America’s fourth largest city, lawmakers must be complicit. For example, Governor Abbott has accepted $1.4M in political contributions from Trey Harris, according to campaign records. His wife, Celeste Harris, donated $100,000 in 2018. Her occupation is listed as “Colony Ridge Development.”

Texas congressman Morgan Luttrell, who received three maximum contributions of $2,900 in the 2022 cycle. Luttrell told The Daily Wire he “just recently learned” about Colony Ridge.

Harris has also made political contributions to state lawmakers in the area. He donated $5,000 to State Rep. Briscoe Cain, who represents neighboring house district 128, in 2020. Cain did not respond to a request for comment.

Harris also donated $1,800 to State Rep. Ernest Bailes, who represents House District 18, where Colony Ridge is located. With Bailes, the financial web grows more complicated — public records indicate that a construction and development company owned by a family member of Bailes was hired to conduct a massive project for Colony Ridge.

Follow the money. Don’t allow politicians to plead ignorance. This is a complicated web of corruption and criminal activity, it seems to me. Governor Abbott is building his brand as a border hawk, someone who protects the southern border. How does he explain this?

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