When charges of “racism” and “xenophobia” fail, Democrats’ fallback argument against President Trump’s proposed border wall is that it simply “won’t work,” so why waste billions building it?
Tell that to the residents of El Paso, Texas.
Federal data show a far-less imposing wall than the one Trump envisions — a two-story corrugated metal fence first erected under the Bush administration — already has dramatically curtailed both illegal border crossings and crime in Texas’ sixth-largest city, which borders the high-crime Mexican city of Juarez.
In fact, the number of deportable illegal immigrants located by the US Border Patrol plummeted by more than 89 percent over the five-year period during which the controversial new fence was built, according to Homeland Security data reviewed by me. When the project first started in 2006, illegal crossings totaled 122,261, but by 2010, when the 131-mile fence was completed from one end of El Paso out into the New Mexico desert, immigrant crossings shrank to just 12,251.
They hit a low of 9,678 in 2012, before slowly ticking back up to a total of 25,193 last year. But they’re still well below pre-fence levels, and the Border Patrol credits the fortified barrier dividing El Paso from Mexico for the reduction in illegal flows.
And crime abated with the reduced human traffic from Juarez, considered one of the most dangerous places in the world due to drug-cartel violence, helping El Paso become one of the safest large cities in America.
Before 2010, federal data show the border city was mired in violent crime and drug smuggling, thanks in large part to illicit activities spilling over from the Mexican side. Once the fence went up, however, things changed almost overnight. El Paso since then has consistently topped rankings for cities of 500,000 residents or more with low crime rates, based on FBI-collected statistics. The turnaround even caught the attention of former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other Obama administration officials, who touted it as one of the nation’s safest cities while citing the beefed-up border security there.
Federal data illustrates just how remarkable the turnaround in crime has been since the fence was built. According to FBI tables, property crimes in El Paso have plunged more than 37 percent to 12,357 from their pre-fence peak of 19,702 a year, while violent crimes have dropped more than 6 percent to 2,682 from a peak of 2,861 a year.
The overall crime rate in El Paso continued to fall last year, prompting city leaders to trumpet the good news in a press release that noted, “Because El Paso is a border town, its low crime rate may surprise you.”