Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra, who is in charge of policing the largest and most populous county in the Rio Grande Valley, said that crime rates in his county are at record lows, and that illegal immigration has very little effect on the safety of residents. Meanwhile, Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson, who is responsible for policing the largest county in Texas, said he doesn’t support the construction of a wall along any part of the 192-mile stretch of border in Brewster County, which includes Big Bend National Park.
“Because we’re on the border, the perception is that there’s murders every day and there’s shootings every day. Yet here in our county, we don’t have that going on. It’s very, very safe,” Guerra told the Observer.
And yet there is a constant and consistent stream of stories that tell the rest of us that this is happening: murders, illegal aliens committing violent crime on a daily basis and being deported, drugs being apprehended at border checkpoints (who knows if this is all of them), children being dragged across the desert because there is no wall in many places.
The sheriffs just don’t think this is an issue for them, nor do they believe there is a crisis at the border.
In addition to fewer murders, the violent crime and property crime rates in Hidalgo County are less than half of what they were in 1999. Guerra, a Democrat who has lived in the RGV his entire life, said the majority of immigrants entering the county without papers are Central American asylum-seekers fleeing violence and poverty who turn themselves over to Border Patrol agents as soon as they can.
“They’re averaging, here in the Rio Grande Valley sector, about 600 apprehensions a day. Most are family units. These family units and unaccompanied children pose exactly zero security threat in the county,” Guerra said.
Guerra’s observations are reflected in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data: Since September, families and unaccompanied children have made up more than half of Border Patrol apprehensions. And apprehensions across the entire U.S.-Mexico border are down significantly over the last 20 years, with the number of migrants apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley falling by 44 percent from 1997 to 2017.
All that tells us is that the border situation is an ongoing problem that is finally being addressed. That’s a far cry from saying that there simply is no problem.