Border Violence: Myth or Reality?

Ross Becker

Obama Administration Border Czar Alan Bersin won't back down on this issue. When he visited KUSI this week, the topic of border violence came up right away while we were all still talking in the hallway before the taping of San Diego People. He says it's safer now than ever before and he started pulling out graphs and charts from his briefcase to support his case.

The thin, sometimes invisible, line between Mexico and the United States contrasts a big difference in the level of violence. Bersin says on one side of the border it's bad and very dangerous, but on the other side it's getting better everyday. He admits it's frightening to hear about the level of bloody attacks against police and others in the border towns like Cuidad Mexico across from El Paso. Even in Tijuana, the level of violence is escalating because of the local drug wars and organized crime. But, Bersin says, it's not coming across that line.

Nevertheless, he says, those who are pushing the new Arizona law are using the images we see from across the border to push for the law here. He understands its part of the political landscape these days. He also agrees the truth about border crime and crime caused by illegal immigration is that it is a problem. It may not be a growing problem, but it is one that needs attention.

The non-profit Center for Investigative Reporting put out a report about it this summer. It looked at FBI crime stats, local police crime numbers and Federal Border Patrol crime compilations and it wrote, in part, “The border patrol internally put together one of the latest reports, which says that law enforcers working on the nation's southwest boundary with Mexico are safer at work than the average American police officer. A second academic study… found not only that crime had decreased in cities with rising immigration levels but also that the presence of more immigrants appeared to be partly responsible for dips in reported violent activity. “

When there is change in the air, Bersin knows it needs a catalyst. This latest nationwide immigration debate is being fueled and fanned by the specter of rising crime. He claims it's a myth. But, he also told me that perception is reality and some perceive illegal immigrant crime as a problem. That's a reality he has to deal with.

To see the entire interview with Border Czar Alan Bersin, watch San Diego People this Sunday at 10 AM on KUSI.

Categories: Becker’s Digital Notebook