Fighting For Water in the Colonias

A Texas nun teaches Mexican Americans the uses of Chicago-style political activism

Tramping softly through the sandy West Texas soil in her paisley skirt and black leather heels, Pearl Ceasar looks more like the first-grade teacher she used to be than the nun-turned-troublemaker she is.

Ceasar is the paid organizer for a church-based citizens group that is struggling to bring drinking water to thousands of impoverished families along the Mexican border. As such, she mobilizes working-class Hispanics who live in unregulated subdivisions called colonias that sprawl across miles of cotton fields in El Paso's Lower Rio Grande Valley.

This September afternoon Sister is working the back roads of Socorro, a 17th century Spanish...

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