Violence On The Mexican Border Misconstrued

Much of the debate in Washington and in border states like Arizona have been framed around a need to stem the violence caused by unlawful immigrants and drug cartels.

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) told NJP Wednesday that “the violence has increased since 2007.”

The violence has increased since 2007 – on the Mexican side of the border. What gets lost in this debate is that violence on the American side of the border has actually decreased.

A report by the Immigration Policy Center compiled using statistics from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics found that violent and property crime in Arizona has been on a steady decline since 2002. It decreased by 8% in six years.  Violent crime impacted 447 people out of 100,000 in 2008 compared to 555 in 2002.

Monica Weisberg-Stewart owns a business on the border near El Paso, Texas. She also said violence has not been on the rise. Rather, she said, it is more of a “fear” that violence across the border will spread into the US.

“That’s probably where the media has really gotten the picture wrong. And the best way I can explain that is in an example of El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico. If it was spilling over, El Paso, TX would not be the second safest city in the United States” Weisberg-Stewart said.

CQ Press determined El Paso was indeed the second safest large city in the US.

But crime continues to be depicted as politicians call for more border security.

The US has poured billions of dollars into border security since 2007. A physical barrier and virtual fence has been constructed along portions of the border.  Unmanned vehicles and border patrol roam the border, and President Bush sent 6,000 troops to border.

Republicans and some Democrats say the border must be secure before comprehensive immigration reform can be addressed.

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) said, “It’s pretty obvious the American people are not going to stand for immigration reform before the border is secure.”

To respond to that belief, President Obama announced he would send 1200 national guard troops to the border and spend an additional $500 million on border security. The House is adding the request to its emergency war supplemental bill to be voted on this week.

Republicans Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said, “1,200 is a good start.”

But Senator Graham would prefer 6,000 troops on the border. He supports the proposal being debated in the Senate by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.)

Will an additional 6,000 troops make the border secure? NJP posed that question to numerous Republican lawmakers.

Senator Isaacson determined that deportation proceedings would secure the border. He also said it would take “enough unmanned aerial vehicles in the air at all time to cover those open spaces that aren’t covered by walls” and “enough parallel walls in highly populated regions between the US and Mexico.”

Isakson said the “experts” would decide when the border is secure. The definition of expert can be a partisan topic in Washington and often fails to lead to consensus.

Senator Graham said he needs President Obama to show he is serious about securing the border before comprehensive reform can be addressed.

Graham said: “Just showing a commitment to implement it doesn’t mean it all has to be implemented for me to start” working on comprehensive reform.

Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) offered his description of a secure border. “Ideally we would know everyone coming in and out of the country,” Cornyn said.

But he admits that is nearly impossible. “That’s hard in a country as big and open as ours with thousands of miles of borders,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn admitted, “I’m afraid I can’t give you a good answer.”

Both Senators Graham and Cornyn used the term “operational control” to define a secure border.  Wondering what does operational control mean?

Senator Cornyn was unable to define it.

“I think it is a sense that we have a better handle on things,” Cornyn said.

James Carafano, Senior Fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the terms ‘border security’ and ‘operational control’ are “subjective” and impossible to define.

Carafana said he does not “trust anybody in this town to deal honestly with this issue” of immigration. He said the Republicans use border security as “an excuse to put off the issue,” and to Democrats it is a “hollow statement that they want to make so they can move onto amnesty.”

While politicians are likely to send more money and people to guard the border. Republicans and Democrats are likely to continue to misconstrue the facts and continue to debate the apparently indefinable concept of border security.

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Here an audio version on FSRN.


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