Las Cruces – The findings of the first independent public opinion poll of residents along in border cities in California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico show that residents feel their border communities are as safe as most communities in the nation.
The release of the report comes on the heels of the House of Representatives passage of a $600 million in supplemental funding for border enforcement (HR 6080) calling for more money and agents to the Southern border.
According to the poll, commissioned by the Border Network for Human Rights, a community organization in El Paso, Texas, and conducted by the Reuel Group, 87.5% of border residents said they feel safe walking or driving in their neighborhood during their regular daily activities. Almost 70% said they felt their border neighborhood was as safe as most U.S. neighborhoods and 67% said they felt safe living in their border community.
"Politicians creating border policies need to talk to the people who actually live at the border instead of listening to pundits and opportunistic politicians set to score political points by fanning the perception that the border is out of control," added Fernando Garc a, Executive Director, Border Network for Human Rights. "It is time to rethink our border policy by increasing the quality and accountability of border enforcement, not the quantity of armed agents and soldiers on our southern border."
"In law enforcement, there are two things we look at. One is the crime rate and the other is the fear of crime. Because it doesn't help to have a low crime rate, which we do, if people are afraid of going outside," said El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles. "What we see in our community is that people are concerned with graffiti and stray dogs. All the issues of urban areas. 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."
"Heated rhetoric on border violence has escalated fear but ignores the reality on the ground. This has prevented politicians from addressing the real problems in the broken immigration system," said Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema. "We need a comprehensive solution to border security and immigration. Our broken system is a national crisis that requires strong and relentless presidential leadership and bold action from Congress. Our country, including my state of Arizona, desperately needs an immigration system that works.
"Political rhetoric and not reality is what's driving the national debate over border security. Members of Congress want to pass yet another enforcement bill so they can look "tough" on border enforcement but the reality is that we will never have a secure border as long as we have politicians who seek political points with calls for "securing the border" while avoiding the hard work of reforming our immigration system," added Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. The federal government has dedicated unprecedented resources to the Mexican border and progress has been made to secure our border. However, without fixing the immigration system, more resources on the border bring diminishing returns at best, a complete waste of tax dollars at worst."
The poll was conducted on 1,222 border residents in three Arizona border cities (Douglas, Nogales and Yuma), two California border cities (El Centro and San Diego), Las Cruces, New Mexico, and four Texas border cities (Brownsville, El Paso, Laredo and McAllen) in mid-July.