Oct 19, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Border cities see homicides rates drop

Panoramic view of skyline and downtown El Paso Texas looking toward Juarez, Mexico

El Paso, Texas looking toward Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Photo: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Several communities along the U.S.-Mexico border saw homicide rates fall last year to levels that are well below the national average, according to an Axios analysis of the latest FBI crime data.

The big picture: Many Republicans have focused on illegal immigration as the presidential election approaches, often portraying border communities as chaotic and lawless.

State of play: Eight U.S. border communities had lower homicide rates than the national average, per the FBI's data, which was released Monday.

By the numbers: On average, the eight cities Brownsville, McAllen, Laredo, Eagle Pass and El Paso in Texas; Sunland Park, New Mexico; Yuma, Arizona; and San Diegohad a homicide rate of 4.2 per 100,000 residents, compared to 6.3 nationwide.

  • That was a drop for border cities from 2021, when they had a homicide rate of 4.7 per 100,000 residents.
  • Eagle Pass recorded no homicides in 2022.
  • Yuma, a community of 99,000 people, had the highest homicide rate (19.3 per 100,000 people) and continued to have the highest rates of violent crime (559.2) of all border cities.

Yes, but: The same cities also saw jumps in overall violent crime in 2022, after seeing years of declines.

  • The eight communities had a violent crime rate of 382 per 100,000 residents in 2022 — a 10% increase from the year before.
  • The border communities had violent crime rates slightly above the national average for the first time in years.

The intrigue: El Paso recorded a violent crime rate of 313.4 and a homicide rate of 3.2 per 100,000 residents.

  • The city of 677,000 remains one of the safest communities of its size, according to an analysis by Axios.

Between the lines: Experts, police and elected officials don't know why rates stay so low compared to cities of the same size and similar demographics, but many point to research showing low crime in immigrant communities.

Of note: McAllen, located across from Reynosa, Mexico, one of the most dangerous places in the Americas, had the lowest violent crime rate, with 197.1 crimes per 100,000 people.

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