Starr County

Starr County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 60,968. Its county seat is Rio Grande City. The county is named for James Harper Starr, who served as Secretary of the Treasury of the Republic of Texas. It is part of the Rio Grande City-Roma, TX, Metropolitan Statistical Area.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Starr County has a total area of 1,229 square miles (3,180 km2), of which 1,223 square miles (3,170 km2) is land and 6 square miles (16 km2) (0.51%) is water.

Major highways

  • US 83.svg U.S. Highway 83

Adjacent counties and municipalities

  • Jim Hogg County (north)
  • Brooks County (northeast)
  • Hidalgo County (east)
  • Zapata County (west)
  • Camargo Municipality, Tamaulipas, Mexico (south)
  • Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Mexico (southwest)
  • Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas, Tamaulipas, Mexico (south)
  • Mier Municipality, Tamaulipas, Mexico (southwest)
  • Miguel Alemán Municipality, Tamaulipas, Mexico (southwest)

National protected area

  • Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge (part)


The founder of Starr County was Matias Longoria, who was awarded a land grant from the king of Spain.

From 2000 to 2010 the population of Starr County increased from 53,597 to 60,968.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 2,406
1870 4,154 72.7%
1880 8,304 99.9%
1890 10,749 29.4%
1900 11,469 6.7%
1910 13,151 14.7%
1920 11,089 −15.7%
1930 11,409 2.9%
1940 13,312 16.7%
1950 13,948 4.8%
1960 17,137 22.9%
1970 17,707 3.3%
1980 27,266 54.0%
1990 40,518 48.6%
2000 53,597 32.3%
2010 60,968 13.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
Texas Almanac: 1850-2010

As of the census of 2000, there were 53,597 people, 14,410 households, and 12,666 families residing in the county. The population density was 44 people per square mile (17/km²). There were 17,589 housing units at an average density of 14 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 87.92% White, 0.15% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.28% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 9.91% from other races, and 1.46% from two or more races.

97.54% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. According to the Census Bureau, Starr County had the highest percentage of Hispanic residents of any county in the United States.

There were 14,410 households out of which 54.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.50% were married couples living together, 17.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 12.10% were non-families. 11.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.69 and the average family size was 4.01.

In the county, the population was spread out with 37.40% under the age of 18, 11.00% from 18 to 24, 27.10% from 25 to 44, 16.30% from 45 to 64, and 8.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 94.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $16,504, and the median income for a family was $17,556. Males had a median income of $17,398 versus $13,533 for females. The per capita income for the county was $7,069, which is the third-lowest in the United States. About 47.40% of families and 50.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 59.40% of those under age 18 and 43.30% of those age 65 or over.

As of 2009 the median household income is $22,418.

Law enforcement

In the 1970s and into the 1980s, federal law enforcement officials concentrated their anti-drug smuggling efforts on Starr County.

On May 1, 2009, the former sheriff of Starr County, Reymundo Guerra, plead guilty in Federal court to a narcotics conspiracy charge.

Presidential elections

Starr County has long been a strongly Democratic county but suffers from low voter turnout with only approximately 20% of its 53,000 residents voting. No Republican has won the county in over a century and the county favored Michael Dukakis by the highest percentage in the nation. Starr County is among a handful of counties in Texas that gave the majority of their votes to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. John Kerry received 7,199 votes which was 74% of the votes while George W. Bush received 2,552 votes which was 26% of the votes. In 2008, Illinois Senator Barack Obama did a lot better than Kerry in Starr County, receiving 8,233 votes, which was 84% of the vote. Arizona Senator Republican John McCain received 1,488 votes, which was 15% of the vote.


As of 2011 Starr County has about 55 colonias. By 2011 many families were moving to the colonias.


  • Escobares
  • La Grulla
  • Rio Grande City
  • Roma

Census-designated places

  • Alto Bonito
  • El Refugio
  • Falcon Heights
  • Falcon Village
  • Fronton
  • Garceno
  • La Casita-Garciasville
  • La Puerta
  • La Rosita
  • La Victoria
  • Las Lomas
  • Los Alvarez
  • Los Villareales
  • North Escobares
  • Roma Creek
  • Salineno
  • San Isidro
  • Santa Cruz

Other communities

  • Delmita
  • La Gloria
  • La Reforma
  • Santa Catarina
  • Santa Elena


Residents of eastern Starr County are zoned to schools in the Rio Grande City Consolidated Independent School District. Immaculate Conception School, located in Rio Grande City and founded in 1884, is the only Catholic school in Starr County and provides a faith-based pre-K through eighth-grade education to approximately 250 students each year.

Residents of western Starr County are zoned to schools in the Roma Independent School District.

Residents of northeastern Starr County are zoned to schools in the San Isidro Independent School District.

South Texas College Founded in 1993, South Texas College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate and associate degrees. More than 29,000 students attend STC and a faculty and staff of more than 1,600 serve STC’s five campuses, including a full-service campus located in Rio Grande City in Starr County. The county holds one seat on the college’s seven member Board of Directors. The seat is currently filled by Rose Benavidez.

The college offers more than 100 degree and certificate program options, including associate degrees in a variety of art, science, technology, allied health and advanced manufacturing fields of study. The college also offers eight online associate degrees options.

STC offers a Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) degree in Technology Management, as well as a Bachelor of Applied Technology in Computer and Information Technologies. The college is one of only three Texas community colleges accredited to offer a BAT degree and the only community college in Texas accredited to offer two bachelor’s degrees.

STC has instituted a variety of dual enrollment programs, including early college high schools, drop-out recovery programs and other unique initiatives with high schools throughout Hidalgo and Starr counties. The programs allow eligible students to take college courses while attending high school. Combined, more than 8,000 students are currently enrolled in these programs.

The college has also developed two intensive academic programs for students interested in pursuing degrees in the medical and engineering fields. The Dual Enrollment Medical Science Academy and the Dual Enrollment Engineering Academy consist of concentrated two-year programs of study and internship opportunities for qualified students to pursue an Associate of Science degree during their junior and senior years in high school.

The program provides opportunities for lifelong learners who want to upgrade their skills, change careers, renew licenses and certifications, or seek personal enrichment. There is a wide variety of course offerings including online classes. Additionally the division also offers customized training to area businesses, industries and the community. Training programs are tailored to a client’s specific needs in terms of content, schedule and location.

For more information about STC .

South Texas College, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, serves the students and communities of Starr County as a comprehensive institution of higher learning. For more information on STC.