Why Claims of a ‘Safe Border’ are Wrong and Deceptive

Rep. Cuellar: Texas cities on the Mexican border have less crime

MCALLEN, Texas — As border security and illegal immigration continue to be at the forefront of the national debate, one of the main arguments continually thrown out by politicians is the erroneous idea that border cities are safe.

While local politicians from San Diego to El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley routinely claim that their crime statistics are continuously low, in reality those statistics don’t account for federal crimes that took place in their city such as kidnappings, drug trafficking and other spillover crimes.

The “safe” statistics are based off an outdated 1930’s model called UCR (Uniform Crime Report) that the FBI is trying to push out of operation because of the many holes it has.

“So when agencies switch to the (National Incident Based Reporting System), it may seem like crime within their region has increased by that perception of an increase is due to the greater level of reporting specificity in NIBRS data compared to that for summary data,” the FBI announced last year when they kicked off their NIBRS in an effort to add transparency to the obscure data game.

In the border city of El Paso, the local newspaper El Paso Times wrote extensively about the city being ranked the safest large city in the U.S. for the fourth year in a row. The reporting backing up that article is based on a listing by CQ Press and the authors of that report based their listing on the outdated UCR report.

The old system known as the Uniform Crime Report or UCR, since its implementation on January 1930, has been run by the FBI and the stats were seen in the past as the gold standard in tracking some crimes for almost a century.

However a recent push for greater transparency and consistency in crime data has led to the FBI trying to get more and more police departments to begin using the NIBRS as a new standard.

The UCR focuses ONLY on murder, forcible rape, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson which are tracked by local police departments and submitted to the FBI.

Based on their description, the UCR does not keep tabs on kidnapping, a crime that while common throughout the U.S., in border communities the crime becomes more alarming with the addition of Mexican drug cartels.

As previously reported by Breitbart Texas, Mexico’s Gulf cartel has in the past had kidnapping crews that operated in Texas rounding up people wanted by the cartel bosses in Mexico for debts or perceived betrayals. At least one of those multiple kidnappings resulted in a case of mistaken identity leading to an innocent person being kidnapped, tortured, smuggled into Mexico and then being executed under orders of the Gulf cartel.

In a separate but similar case also reported by Breitbart Texas, another kidnapping ring made up of local gang members and criminal illegal aliens working under orders of the Gulf Cartel carried out a series of kidnappings that resulted in a shootout where a Texas border sheriff’s deputy was shot multiple times as he, along with his partner, fought off a cartel gunman with an Uzi.

When dealing with border communities, the report also doesn’t look at drug trafficking offenses, human trafficking, extortion, racketeering and other activities that have become synonymous with Mexican drug cartel activity.

Breitbart Texas spoke with various officials on border economic development councils who have in the past expressed their concern that the negative image that news articles dealing with cartel activity scare off potential investors who could create new business opportunities in the area.

In the border region known as Rio Grande Valley, drug traffickers have created an unusual type of crime which is tied directly to the area’s use as a drug corridor by Mexican cartels.

Known locally as home invasions, crews of 12-to-15 gang or cartel gunmen carrying assault rifles will storm into homes looking for drug shipments or cash that other smugglers may be hiding in their homes.

Law enforcement officials usually dismiss the cases as a “bad guy on bad guy” crime; however in some cases the cartel gunmen have stormed the wrong house and have victimized innocent families.

As Breitbart Texas previously reported, in May a group of about 15 gunmen stormed a house near the border city of Harlingen, Texas and shot a mother and her child in an apparent attempt to steal drugs, however at the time of the crime, Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio told Breitbart Texas that the gunmen had gone to the wrong house.

While alarming in nature, home invasions get lost in the data since the UCR report does not have a category for that crime. If the report on the home invasion is classified as a robbery, then there is nothing to differentiate fifteen cartel gunmen storming a house versus an individual pulling out a knife to take a wallet.

In 2013, the newspaper in McAllen, Texas, The Monitor, reported on the unique challenge that drug related home invasions place for law enforcement when it comes to reporting them accurately.

Just like with home invasions, the large amounts of drugs flowing through the Texas border has led to regular high speed police chases near the border where authorities try to capture vehicles loaded with narcotics or illegal immigrants.

While most of the pursuits end up with the smugglers getting arrested, those individuals are charged in federal court on charges that once again don’t appear on the UCR report.

Follow Ildefonso Ortiz on Twitter and on Facebook.


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