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It's one of the safest parts of America, and it's getting safer.
It's the U.S.-Mexico border, and even as politicians say more federal troops are needed to fight rising violence, government data obtained by The Associated Press show it actually isn't so dangerous after all.
The top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin, according to a new FBI report. And an in-house Customs and Border Protection report shows that Border Patrol agents face far less danger than street cops in most U.S. cities.
The Customs and Border Protection study, obtained with a Freedom of Information Act request, shows 3 percent of Border Patrol agents and officers were assaulted last year, mostly when assailants threw rocks at them. That compares with 11 percent of police officers and sheriff's deputies assaulted during the same period, usually with guns or knives.
In addition, violent attacks against agents declined in 2009 along most of the border for the first time in seven years. So far this year assaults are slightly up, but data is incomplete.
"The border is safer now than it's ever been," said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling.
He said one factor is that with fewer jobs available amid the U.S. recession, illegal immigration has dropped. And responding to security concerns after 9-11, the Border Patrol has doubled the number of agents in the region since
In Arizona, a stringent new immigration law takes effect next month, requiring police to question suspects' immigration status if officers believe they're in the country illegally. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said in a televised interview last weekend: "We are out here on the battlefield getting the impact of all this illegal immigration, and all the crime that comes with it."
But FBI crime reports for 2009 says violent crime in Arizona declined. And violent crimes in southwest border counties are among the lowest in the nation per capita – they've dropped by more than 30 percent in the last two decades. Of America's 25 largest cities, San Diego – with one out of four residents an immigrant – has the lowest number of violent crimes per capita.
Opponents of increased border security are frustrated by descriptions of a wave of violence when the statistics show the region to be relatively safe."
Report from The Arizona Republic
NOGALES, Ariz. - Assistant Police Chief Roy Bermudez shakes his head and smiles when he hears politicians and pundits declaring that Mexican cartel violence is overrunning his Arizona border town.
"We have not, thank God, witnessed any spillover violence from Mexico," Bermudez says emphatically. "You can look at the crime stats. I think Nogales, Arizona, is one of the safest places to live in all of America."
FBI Uniform Crime Reports and statistics provided by police agencies, in fact, show that the crime rates in Nogales, Douglas, Yuma and other Arizona border towns have remained essentially flat for the past decade, even as drug-related violence has spiraled out of control on the other side of the international line. Statewide, rates of violent crime also are down.
"Politicians, mainly, if not exclusively Republican, have made speeches about crime along the Arizona border. But Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, from Pima County, says: "This is a media-created event. I hear politicians on TV saying the border has gotten worse. Well, the fact of the matter is that the border has never been more secure." In Cochise County the "crime rate has been 'flat for at least 10 years, the sheriff added."
"The Republic reports: "While the nation's illegal-immigrant population doubled from 1994 to 2004, according to federal records, the violent-crime rate declined 35 percent." If illegal immigrantion causes crime then shouldn't crime rates rise with more immigration,not fall? In Arizona the violent-crime rate "dropped from 512 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2005 to 447 incidents in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available."
This decrease in crime in "crime-ridden" Arizona—if you believe the hype about immigrants—continues to show up in the most recent statistics as well. The Wall Street Journal reports, "Arizona's major cities all registered declines" in crime and:
In Phoenix, police spokesman Trent Crump said, "Despite all the hype, in every single reportable crime category, we're significantly down." Mr. Crump said Phoenix's most recent data for 2010 indicated still lower crime. For the first quarter of 2010, violent crime was down 17% overall in the city, while homicides were down 38% and robberies 27%, compared with the same period in 2009."
These facts and data belie what Governer Brewer and the non-Latino population in Arizona have put forward in their arguments in favor of Arizona's newest "Show Me Your Papers" law.
Also--Gov. Brewer is not shy about exaggerating and even making up her own version of history. She was caught lying about her father and World War II.