Office of Border Public Health



Texas – México Border 

The Texas – México border is defined as the area 100 kilometers (62.5 miles) north and south of the international boundary (La Paz Agreement).  It stretches 1,254 miles from the Gulf of México to El Paso, Texas. The Texas border includes two tribal nations, creating tri-national regions (Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas near Eagle Pass and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso). Additionally, there are eight sister-cities from El Paso-Ciudad Juarez to Brownsville-Matamoros. Surprisingly, the Texas border makes up about half of the U.S. – Mexico Border.

  US-Mexico Border sister cities and population

Population and demographics

The Texas border currently has a population of 3.0 million residents, considered to be one of the busiest international boundaries in the world. In fact, the Texas border, as a geographic region, is larger than some U.S. states (see below). However, its population is still quite diverse. For example, El Paso County has 791 people per square mile while Brewster County has 1.5 people per square mile, noting the difference in population density from urban to rural areas along the Texas border.  

how big is the texas border region

Most border residents are Latino/Hispanic (88.4%), compared to only 35.5% of Texas non-border residents (2015 Census projections from DSHS Center for Health Statistics).  With 29.3% of our border population living below the poverty level compared to 15.9% of Texas non-border residents, our border has some challenges. Below is a comparison list of public health social factors between border and non-border areas of Texas.  

Community Drivers of Public Health

Texas Border  Texas Non-border
  • Population (3.0 million)
  • Hispanic (88.4%)
  • Below poverty level (29.3%)
  • Adults ages 18-64 no health insurance (46.1%)
  • Do not speak English very well (31.7%)
  • No high school diploma ages 25 and older (32.8%)
  • Population (25.7 million)
  • Hispanic (35.5%)
  • Below poverty level (15.9%)
  • Adults ages 18-64 no health insurance (28.3%)
  • Do not speak English very well (12.2%)
  • No high school diploma ages 25 and older (16.5%)

Our border fares well on several leading health issues, despite high poverty rates and health care access. However, socioeconomic, environmental, political and regulatory challenges still affect our border. On the positive side, there are lower infant mortality rates, lower cases of heart disease and stroke. 

The border is disproportionately affected by higher obesity, diabetes mellitus, cervical cancer, caesarian section delivery rates, and certain contagious diseases including tuberculosis. Like other parts of Texas, rapid growth poses multiple challenges including the development of a sufficient health workforce and access to primary, preventive, and specialty care.

Needs Assessment

  • The Texas border needs to standardize data collection to ensure it’s compatible with and by border states on both sides of the border
  • Public health infrastructure is sorely needed, including educational/research institutions and health care providers that are culturally competent. 
  • While many successful public health programs have been implemented, these programs need to be replicated throughout our border region
  • Border residents are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action in geographical locations. We need to develop an innovative health program model that will improve infrastructure as it would be of great benefit to this part of Texas.

For additional information, contact:

Office of Border Public Health - M/C 1962
Texas Department of State Health Services
P.O. Box 149347
Austin, Texas 78714-9347
Phone: (512) 776-7675
Fax: (512) 776-7262

Email Office of Border Public Health

Last updated June 28, 2021