Locals know what politicians don't want you to find out: the border is much safer than Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will admit. A new poll commissioned by the Border Network for Human Rights queried 1,222 border residents in the Southwest who overwhelmingly said they feel safe in their hometowns.
Eighty-six percent of border residents in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas said they felt safe walking or driving in their neighborhoods. Seventy percent thought their neighborhoods were no more dangerous than any other U.S. neighborhood, and 67 percent said they felt safe living in a border city. The poll was conducted in mid-July by the Reuel Group.
We're in the middle of a border enforcement ramp-up, fueled by anti-immigrant frenzy and border violence lies from both sides of the aisle. When the House passed $26 billion in states aid yesterday, it also approved $600 million in additional funds for more border enforcement. That money, which will help pay for 1,500 new agents at the border, more aerial drones and communication equipment, is expected to be approved with little further conversation.
The latest funding increase came on the heels of a summer announcement of the deployment schedule for 1,200 National Guard the president is sending to the border regions, too. Back in May, President Obama also promised an extra $500 million for increased enforcement. Ignorance and political opportunism isn't limited to just one party.
"What we see in our community is that people are concerned with graffiti and stray dogs. All the issues of urban areas," El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles said in BNHR's public release. "Extreme violence is just not happening here and we need to revisit how resources are expanded on the border. That's a message to send the administration."
I spoke in May with BNHR's executive director, Fernando Garcia, about the disconnect between D.C. rhetoric and border life reality. "[Politicians] are creating the artificial reality that the border is out of control, that it spills over," Garcia said. "None of that is true. We have a very sustainable sense of security in the community, good relations with local law enforcement."