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Border Cities Are Safest in Nation But Deadly For Immigrants

Jill Garvey • Jun 09, 2010

Just as rampant myths blaming immigrants for high crime are debunked, alarming stories of violence against immigrants along the border are being reported.

In the past two weeks alone several immigration agents were involved in tragic encounters that have rocked border communities. Perhaps the one receiving the most attention is the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy by Border Patrol agents in El Paso, Texas. Less publicized incidents include a man who was shot and killed with a stun gun by a border agent in San Diego, and two men who were shot and injured after throwing rocks at pursuing border agents in Arizona.

Many of the media reports of the incidents also seem to repeat verbatim law enforcement statements that describe the victims as “drug smugglers”, although little to no information is available to substantiate those claims.

Rock throwing is also a recurring theme in these incidents. The Border Patrol has explained the shooting of the 15-year-old (who was playing with friends on the Mexican side of the border and was not trying to cross), as a justified response to rocks being thrown at agents.

A Border Patrol union representative described rock-throwing directed at border agents as “a deadly force encounter, one that justifies the use of deadly force.”

Mexico is keeping tabs on the number of people killed or injured in encounters with U.S. immigration authorities. Five in 2008, 12 in 2009, and 17 in just the first five months of 2010.

The message U.S. Border Enforcement seems to be sending is that undocumented immigration is now punishable by firing squad. Those who are injured but survive, are then subject to vilification in local newspapers and possibly months captivity in a privately run detention facility. Anyone who evades U.S. bullets can then find work at a meat processing factory or other giant food production facility doing some of the most dangerous jobs in the country. Welcome to America. The country that shoots, captures, and abuses brown foreigners.

The criminalization of immigrants in political and media realms has been so severe that media watch groups like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) have come down hard on media pundits who’ve spread the most damaging rumors.  In May, Fairness & Accuracy issued an alert about Fox news host Bill O’Reilly and his relentless characterization of Arizona as overrun by criminal immigrants.

Not only has crime steadily declined in Arizona over the last 15 years, but cities in border states are among the safest in the nation. According to the Associated Press:

“The top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin, according to a new FBI report. And an in-house Customs and Border Protection report shows that Border Patrol agents face far less danger than street cops in most U.S. cities.”

Many cities face ongoing challenges related to abusive law enforcement; however, the murder of a kid in retaliation for rock throwing might illicit riots in even the most apathetic communities.

Imagine the response if President Obama then deployed thousands of National Guard Troops to support abusive cops in inner cities, because that’s essentially what is occurring right now in Southwest border states.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, if the Obama Administration wants to stop violence and racism, it should deploy National Guard Troops to defend immigrants, not the border. The truth about the border is finally out. Immigrants are not criminals, they’re the victims.

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