When Brother Albert Phillipp FMS arrived at the newly formed parish in 1996 with Fr. Michael Seifert SM, he found an area in dire need of help. The Brownsville, Texas parish of San Felipe de Jesús consisted of desperately poor people who lived in ramshackle houses, many of which were unsafe. The sun-baked rural community lacked paved streets, garbage collection and streetlights…. Soon after Br. Albert began his ministry in Brownsville’s Cameron Park, he went to the head of the county and asked it to provide garbage collection and other services for Cameron Park. The county commissioner refused because the people in that colonia didn’t vote. “He said he would act if 250 people voted,” Phillipp said. So Albert worked with others in his parish to get people to the polls. In the November 1996 election, 250 people from the colonia voted. Then, he said, “local officials began to get interested in the needs of Cameron Park.”
Today, Albert is retired and still does volunteer work in the parish. Now he fears, however, that the number of votes cast in the colonia will drop dramatically, starting with the next election, because Texas’ stringent voter ID law has gone into effect. That law, SB 14, restricts in-person voting to those people who can present photo IDs.
Adapted from the January 2014 issue of the American Bar Association Journal: Source