Myths about immigration are so difficult to puncture. It's even harder when politicians who should know better continue to spread them. The one about border violence is especially pervasive, particularly because it sounds logical--we hear about all this violence in Mexico, so U.S. border cities must be dangerous.
From Rick Perry in the last Republican debate:
"For the president of the United States to go to El Paso, Texas, and say that the border is safer than it's ever been, either he has some of the poorest intel of a president in the history of this country or he was an abject liar to the American people," Perry said. "It is not safe on that border."
And yet he is 100% wrong:
An extensive July 2011 analysis of crime data from Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico by USA Today found that "violent crime rates were on average lower in cities within 30, 50 and 100 miles of the border — the distances used to fit various definitions of the 'border region.'"Border cities in Texas were no exception.
Perry's comments have angered El Paso's lawmakers and business leaders who have consistently disputed what they claim is political fear-mongering.
"It's incredibly frustrating to have the governor of our state use the national stage to denigrate our community," El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar told the El Paso Times after the debate. "We are not unsafe. Every time he says that, it hurts us."
I don't know whether Perry believes what he says or not, but as governor he should access to basic facts. Drug trafficking and the violence associated with it are serious problems, but let's not make things up and let's not link them to immigrants. I wrote about the huge difference between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez over a year ago, and I expect I will be writing more in the future. Perry seems not to be able to distinguish between them.