Safe Border Cities

Placid in El Paso


Of the myths surrounding American immigration policy, perhaps the most pernicious is the mistaken idea, promulgated by politicians of both major parties, that illegal immigrants from Mexico bring an inevitable increase in violent crime. 

In 2009 Michael Sullivan, former director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, lamented the "escalation of violence" on "both sides of the border." But according to a June review of crime data by the Associated Press, the four American cities with the lowest crime rates are El Paso, Austin, San Diego, and Phoenix—all in border states. El Paso sits directly across from Juarez, Mexico, one of the most violent cities in the hemisphere. And while anti-immigration activists frequently hyperventilate against a supposed epidemic of violence directed at Border Patrol agents, the A.P. found that border cops faced significantly less violence than their counterparts in police departments across the U.S.

According to data from 2009, only 3 percent of agents were assaulted while on duty, mostly with tossed stones, compared with 11 percent of police officers in general. In the words of Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling, "The border is safer now than it's ever been." 

NEXT: Double Secret Probation

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I imagine that the statistics depend a lot on how the questions are asked, who’s asking and who is providing the answers. Comparing border cities’ crime rates with those of other cities is irrelevant and misleading. With the exception of San Diego and Phoenix,the border cities listed are much smaller than say, Cleveland, New York City or Philadelphia and yes, have very different demographics.

    Correlating crime rates with rates of illegal immigration (if such data is available) would be more accurate.

    Statistics, even accurate ones, can be used to paint any picture you want. For example, it would be plausible that neighborhoods with high concentrations of African Americans tend to be more violent. Is that true? Technically yes. Does it mean African Americans are more violent than other Americans? No. Since more African Americans live in integrated neighborhoods now than in ghettos, that would be a tragically spurious conclusion, because the wrong correlation is being used. Correlating economic condition in the same neighborhoods would create a much more accurate picture. Using the correct correlation in this article would be much more informative and helpful.

    1. …and I would not dispute the possibility of reaching the same conclusion; I would just like a more convincing analysis of the relevant data.

  2. I guess the couple jet skiing on Falcon Lake in Texas do not believe this story. Unfortunately, the husband was shot in the head, the wife was chased back to the US side. Mexican authorities will not allow the US authorities to go look for the missing husband, presumably dead. Growing up in Laredo, I will tell you, a lot of border crime goes unreported due to fear of retaliation.

  3. How does the Border Patrol assault and violent encounter statistics compare with that of other Federal Law Enforcement Officers? I know the Border Patrol used to be one of the more violent services along with the Marshal’s Service. Additional, didnt Border Patrol merge with Immigration and Customs Service? So are some of the these agents doing duty at Airports in the interior. Finally what are the statistics if you isolate just southern border agents. Lets take out those agents working the Canadian border.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.