In September 2000, Oscar Del Toro of Monterrey, Mexico, arrived with his wife and three children at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston to start a new life in the United States. Del Toro, then 38, had spent his whole life in Mexico. His mother and father were naturalized American citizens who lived near Houston and had wanted to bring him to the United States with them. But because he was already an adult, with a wife and a child, he was subject to a long waiting period for a green card. He went on with his life in Mexico, building a business selling laser printers and buying a comfortable four-bedroom house. He had more or less forgotten all about the prospect of moving to the United States when, around Christmas in 1999, his mother told him she had a present for him: an Immigration and Naturalization Service letter inviting him and his family to apply for permanent residency.
Del Toro’s parents lived in Pasadena, an oil town on the outskirts of Houston. He moved there, too, to a cramped three-room apartment on the north side of town, above the informal dividing line marked by the Spencer Highway. The north side of Pasadena is a mostly Hispanic area, its streets lined with signs advertising carnicerías, peluquerías and abogados de inmigración. In recent years, so many Mexicans have moved there that some Spanish-speaking locals have taken to calling the area ‘‘Nuevo León,’’ for the Mexican border state where many of them, including the Del Toros, came from. As the older part of town — ‘‘historic,’’ goes the official city designation — its compact neighborhoods have streets cratered with potholes, and sidewalks that are slanted and buckling and overgrown with weeds.
At Pasadena’s very northern end, up by Route 225, are the largely abandoned remnants of the once-vibrant town center. Back in the middle of the last century, this part of town was mostly white, but over the past several decades, the white residents moved to the south side of town, where they built pristine sidewalks and streets that could endure the Texas sun. Neighborhoods on the south side have well-organized homeowners’ associations that get city grants for playgrounds and parks; the new town center there is a shopping corridor, the Fairmont Parkway, lined with big-box stores and national chain restaurants and, in a flourish of civic adornment, median strips bursting with pink and yellow perennials, a priority of the Pasadena mayor, Johnny Isbell, who has called the parkway, because of the sales taxes it generates, ‘‘the hen that lays the golden egg.’’
Full Article: Block the Vote – The New York Times.