Given the overwhelming evidence that the Administration has made the border safer, and and the immigration system better, today’s hearing on border safety highlighted the ways in which alarmists are presenting anecdotal evidence as fact, and what verifiable statistics actually show to be occurring along our border.
The basis of this hearing was a report which sought to focus issues faced by border communities, who are purported to be facing a Narco-Terrorist threat to the United States from cartels in Mexico. Over the course of this hearing the overwhelming anecdotal unsubstantiated evidence, was tampered with the continued admittance that the real violence had been relegated to the Mexican side of the border.
Much of the testimonies regarding border violence focused on anecdotal reports, in fact much of the written testimony steered clear of citing any statistics indicating that the the American border was violent. Any actual statistics regarding violence along the border focused almost entirely on the state as a whole. Any actual statistics cited from the witnesses invariably highlighted the violence in Mexico. What was perfectly clear in the room Congressional members from both sides of the aisle, as well as the witnesses agreed that the violence has been relegated to the Mexican side of the border. Much of the testimony from the witnesses was speculative in nature.
What the facts show, is a drop in violence along the border: The FBI report on Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime shows that nationally, including border states, all four categories of violent crime declined overall compared to 2008, robbery, 8.1 percent; murder, 7.2 percent; aggravated assault, 4.2 percent; and forcible rape, 3.1 percent. Violent crime declined 4.0 percent in metropolitan counties. The same report shows that in Texas, violent crime rates declined,by 3.5 percent to 123,668 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2009. From 2009 to 2010 in the 4 Texas border states, El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville and McAllen all saw drops in violent crime.
Additionally questions were raised about what constituted a border community. The report itself purports to deal with the “border counties,” yet much of the testimony dealt with issues that were faced by cities far away from the border. The Majority members of the committee tried repeatedly to include places like Austin, TX which is 233 miles from the border, as part of the community that lives along the southern part of the state. Austin has a much higher level of violence than border communities, which are experiencing record low levels of criminal violence.
On this point while the testimony of the majority witness only occasionally cited verifiable statistics on crime when they did, their analysis was based upon statistics which were related to the flow of drugs into the United States and not actual violence along the border. Most of these references, were to a GAO report which highlighted a rise in seizures of narcotics entering the United States. Which to these ears sounds like a success of the border patrol more then anything else.
In regards to any dead bodies found on the Texas border, Michael Vickers a vocal border alarmist and witness before the committee recounted grisly tales of finding dead bodies on the border. He admitted that the bodies were immigrants trying to avoid the Border Patrol. From his written testimony:
Most unsettling are the dead bodies showing up on the ranches. 51 Illegal aliens’ deaths have occurred so far this year with another 31 reported still missing and nearly 500 total deaths since October 2004. Some are murdered but at least all are a result criminal homicides.
In his testimony before the court his main complaint for the dead immigrant bodies accumulating on his land: was the cost of disposing of them.
For their part the generals responsible for writing the report, repeatedly acknowledged that the relationships between the United States and Mexico was critical to the future of both of our countries. General McCaffery was adamant that that the flow of guns south of the border, was having a terrible effect on Mexico. Given what they have seen they made three main recommendations, more money for resources for the border, more support for Mexican Authorities, who were dealing valiantly with Mexican cartels in their country and finally a reform of our broken immigration system which would give Mexican migrants protection from being taken advantage of by American businesses and cartels alike.