The U.S.-Mexico Border Is Safer Than You Think

The U.S.-Mexico Border Is Safer Than You Think

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Crime along the U.S.-Mexico border has been cited to justify everything from Arizona’s new immigration law to Congress’s decision Tuesday to spend another $600 million on border enforcement. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has referred to “mayhem” and “headless bodies” found along the border, while Sen. John McCain said that the failure to secure the border “has led to violence -- the worst I have ever seen.” And when asked why they supported Arizona’s immigration law, SB 1070, many Americans cited security reasons and an increase in violent crime along the U.S. border.

But a new poll says that this is a myth. There has been no increase in violent crime on the U.S. side of the border. In fact, reports show that the U.S. border is getting safer.

The poll, commissioned by the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, Tex., and conducted by the independent polling firm The Reuel Group, Inc., found that the vast majority (more than 87 percent) of people living along the U.S. border feel safe. That's compared to 8 percent who said they didn’t feel safe, and around 5 percent who were undecided.

The poll surveyed 1,222 adults, primarily likely voters, in 10 communities along the U.S. border: Douglas, Nogales and Yuma, Ariz., El Centro and San Diego, Calif., Las Cruces, N.M. and Brownsville, El Paso, Laredo, McAllen, Tex.

The results support the latest statistics that show the U.S.-Mexico border is actually one of the safest regions in the country. An FBI report obtained by the Associated Press found that the four big U.S. cities with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection report obtained by AP also found that being a Border Patrol agent is much less dangerous than being a street cop in most cities.

"The border is safer now than it's ever been," U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling told the Associated Press.

Yet politicians and media continue to describe the border as a zone of “war, mayhem, chaos and fear,” according to Fernando García, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights. “This poll sets the record straight,” he says, by “challenging the false assumption that it is a violent border on the U.S. side.” García spoke on a teleconference organized to discuss the findings of the poll.

Congress decided Tuesday to send another $600 million to enhance enforcement along the border, a move that García calls “a political decision” that is not in the interest of the people who actually live there.

In Arizona, political leaders have touted the issue of security in order to push through a number of anti-illegal immigration laws. The murder of an Arizona rancher, for example, was largely credited with spurring support for SB 1070, the law that made it a state crime to be undocumented.

A week after signing SB 1070 into law in April, Gov. Brewer released a statement responding to a shooting of a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy: “Arizona is now confronted by some of the most vicious and dangerous narco-terror organizations the world has seen,” Brewer said. “Their cause is not honest labor in desperate need of sustenance; it is murder, terror and mayhem in furtherance of a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise.”

Although a federal judge temporarily blocked key provisions of SB 1070, the danger of border violence has been a recurring theme in speeches by Brewer and McCain – both of whom are up for election in November.

But Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who was born and raised in southern Arizona, notes that much of the fear of border violence comes from people in the north.

“The fear that folks have around border security largely rests in the interior, from folks who live far away from the border,” says Sinema, adding that this is because they get their information from politicians and the media.

People who live along the border, Sinema says, know that “we have not seen an increase in border-related violence in the last 18 years. If anything, we’ve seen a decrease in the last 10 years.”

El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles adds that it’s actually in the interest of Mexican drug cartels to keep U.S. border cities safe. “We know most of the drugs come across our port of entry,” says Wiles. “After 9/11, the port was closed, and it impacted their profits,” he says. “So it’s in their best interest to keep the ports open.”


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Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Aug 11 2010

What are you people on? Its nice to see that only a little more than 1200 people were asked about the border situation. Never mind the rancher that was killed on his own property. How many ranchers that can't go out onto their own property with out being heavily armed were interviewed? How many bodies of illegal aliens have the New American Media gone out to recover? Bodies of people that were abandoned by their guides because they had already paid upfront and were too weak to follow. How many young girls and women have they found tied to trees and raped to death out in the desert? I have worked with Texas Law enforcement both on and off the border for the last two years and I can honestly say that it is not getting any safer.

Why don't you get your sorry carcass out on the border and drive all 1,969 miles of it and really talk to the people that live on it? Not just the people who live in the ports of entry. Not just the political mouth pieces. Why don't you go out and spend some time with the police, state troopers, sheriffs' deputies, and border patrol who put their lives on the line? Actually get your hands dirty instead of referencing statistics that can be bent to say just about anything.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 11 2010

do we have another right wing tea picker politician commenting.....

Anonymous

Posted Aug 11 2010

Why is the number of soldiers killed in a war zone by insurgents of more newsworthy than the number of legal residents in the USA killed by insurgents (illegal immigrants) ? If we (USA) cannot secure our borders, why are we sending our soldiers around the world to help secure borders and possibly die trying?

Anonymous

Posted Aug 11 2010

Its nice to see some actual rational discussion of the situation coming from the media.

There are clearly still issues with our border security and the events mentioned by the first poster are a tragedy. However to exploit those tragedies for political gain or media ratings ,which anyone who travels between Mexico and the U.S. can blatently see is what is happening, is nearly as terrible.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 12 2010

well, you've already lost territory in Arizona....so i'd have to say, Yes the border is secure.....and the border is moving...It's fantastic....

Anonymous

Posted Aug 12 2010

It's a strange thing to see. El Paso is one of the safest cities I've ever been in while across the border lies one of the most dangerous cities today. While there are some incidents on the U.S. side of the border, I'm willing to bet that 99% of all border violence is on the Mexican side. On top of that, most if not all violence in the U.S. is committed against undocumented immigrants by human traffickers with ties to cartels and corrupt U.S. border guards.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 23 2010

Austin is on the border?? Might want to look at a map.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 27 2010

this has to be a joke, right? In California, Mexican drug cartels are running many marijuana plantations. The amount of violence associated with drugs is going up as they move in. sure we have plenty of our criminals, but to claim that the border is "safer than you think" is an exercise in verbal gymnastics- after all, If you are living in a city, and the vast majority do, you are in an area with quick access to law enforcement. Out here in the sticks, we sometimes have to wait hours for help. Where do you think these criminals are going to put their plantations and smuggling operations? Or don't rural residents deserve to be safe? Oh wait, same answer as fire prevention- "you should accept the risks of living in a rural area" you city slickers are sure sanctimonious- BTW raised a democrat - this is a matter of basic policing, not right wing left wing. At this point I'm ready to legalize drugs and cut the rug out from under these crazies.

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