Part of the justification for building a vast border wall between the United States and Mexico is that it could increase safety in border towns. However, Representative Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX) is claiming that many border towns are, in fact, safer than either New York City or Washington, DC. Trump has spent most of his life in New York City but is currently living in DC.
Gonzalez cited McAllen, Texas, a border town in his own district, as one such example. Gonzalez notes that there wasn’t a single murder in the city of some 140,000 in 2018. Other data sources suggest that McAllen does indeed have a low violent-crime rate. However, property crimes are higher than the national average.
The FBI’s own crime statistics have also found that crime rates in border counties are generally below national averages. The data suggests that the notion that border towns are lawless frontiers is, at the very least, exaggerated.
Of course, it’s possible that criminals are crossing the borders illegally, then simply skipping the border towns, or at least not committing crimes while there. Still, data suggests that both undocumented immigrants and legal immigrants are considerably less likely to commit crimes than native-born individuals. In fact, legal immigrants are far, far less likely to commit crimes.
President Trump has found himself struggling to obtain funding for his would-be signature border wall. So far, Democrats in Congress have proven unwilling to fund the $5.6 billion Trump has requested. This could lead to another shutdown in the coming days.
The president has contemplated using emergency measures to build the wall. However, such efforts would likely be challenged in courts, and given the above data, the president might struggle to justify an emergency.
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, a Republican, has also pledged to “correct” President Trump when he visits the border town to promote his wall and other policies. Margo says that a fence could serve a useful purpose, but has been careful not to paint the town as exceptionally violent.