Focus on Texas Ag Border Report Erroneous Statement: Mexico’s Drug Violence is Spilling Over Into The United States

In the midst of running for Lieutenant Governor, Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples released a report claiming that the border between Mexico and Texas was an out of control war zone. The report's claims have already been confronted with skepticism. This week we will scrutinize highlight and debunk the most erroneous statements in the report.


From the Texas Ag Report: The spillover effect of increased violence in Mexico increases the violence on the U.S. side.

Despite incessant claims to the contrary there is little to no evidence of spillover violence from Mexico. NDN has refuted such allegations many times. While the report never cites claims about spillover, it references a study by the Congressional Research Service that addresses spillover violence. Ironically, the COLGEN report blatantly ignored the main conclusion of the report it cites:

“Currently, no comprehensive, publicly available data exist that can definitively answer the question of whether there has been a significant spillover of drug trafficking-related violence into the United States. {…] anecdotal reports have been mixed”

The writers themselves are hard pressed to substantiate these claims beyond anecdotal claims, Jeremy Schwartz, of the Austin American-Statesmen noted:

“During a news conference after the report was released, McCaffrey raised eyebrows when he spoke of “hundreds of people murdered on our side of the frontier,” a statistic that far exceeded the 22 killings between January 2010 and May 2011 identified by the Department of Public Safety as being related to drug cartels. When asked about the number, McCaffrey pointed to statements from a Brooks County rancher, who told reporters that hundreds of bodies had been found in the county in recent years.”

In fact  Brooks County, Tx Sheriff’s Department told the Austin Statesmen: “Most of the bodies were those of illegal immigrants crossing the brush trying to avoid the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias and not victims of direct assaults...”

Overall violence along the Southwest Border has been in decline for some time:

The FBI report on Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime shows that nationally, including border states, all four categories of violent crime declined overall compared to 2008: robbery, 8.1 percent; murder, 7.2 percent; aggravated assault, 4.2 percent; and forcible rape, 3.1 percent. Violent crime declined 4.0 percent in metropolitan counties. The same report shows that in Texas, violent crime rates declined,by 3.5 percent to 123,668 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2009.  From 2009 to 2010 in the 4 Texas border states, El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville and McAllen all saw drops in violent crime. By contrast Dayton, Ohio part of Speaker of the House John Boehner’s is far more violent.

When compared to their respective state averages murder rates for cities within 50 miles of the border have been lower almost every year nearly every year from 1998 to 2009. For example, during that period, California’s lowest murder rate (5.3 people per 100, 000 residents in 2009) was still higher than the highest murder rate in border cities (4.6 people per 100, 000 in 2003).

Robbery rates for cities within 50 miles of the border were lower each year compared with the state average. In Texas, from 1998 t0 2009, the robbery rate ranged from 145 to 173 per 100,000 people in the state, while the robbery rate throughout Texas’ border region never rose above 100 per 100,000.

With thanks to Dante Perez for his help with research for this report.

Border Bulletin – Staples manufactures border fear, Fronteirphobia runs rampant, Obama defends attorney general on ATF

Texas Ag Commissioner Todd Staples, has unveiled a report that sites a source,, (which he created) that says that violence is out of control along the Texas border with Mexico. Many are skeptical of the report's veracity. In other news President Obama defends Department of Justice head Eric Holder over his handling of the ATF’s Fast and Furious program.

San Antonio Examiner – Staples Manufactures Border Fears -Article pushes back on an erroneous s report on border violence noting: “USA Today recently did an analysis of border violence, drawing on “more than a decade of detailed crime data reported by more than 1,600 local law enforcement agencies in four states, federal crime statistics and interviews along the border from California to Texas.””

Current – Texas Ag Commissioner Fueling Fronteirphobia - Article highlights Todd Staples use of “fronteirphobia” to score political points as he gears up for a lieutenant governor run in Texas.

President Obama defends attorney general regarding ATF tactics – “Obama says he and Holder didn’t know the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was allowing illegal gun purchases on the Southwest border as part of Operation Fast and Furious.”

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security: Time For a Reality Check on Immigration Enforcement

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano gave a speech on immigration and border security today. While no new policy was announced, she sought to contextualize and cool much of the heated rhetoric surrounding enforcement of our broken immigration system and issues surrounding border security.

Secretary Napolitano speech got to the core of the current debate surrounding immigration: how does the federal government enforce an immigration system which is clearly broken?

The Obama administration has taking much political heat from both the right, for not enforcing our immigration laws and from the left for enforcing them too vigorously. This speech highlighted the paradox of these competing notions. It also engaged the idea that the Department of Homeland Security over the last 3 years had nearly completely overhauled how the federal government enforces immigration laws. The speech explored these consequences and directly confronted the confusion that these changes may have caused. In a time when Congressional legislative action on immigration reform is looking increasingly less likely, she was emphatic, that more then anything what was needed most was a more intelligent way of talking about our broken immigration system.

These in-congruent reactions make two things clear: First, two opposites can't simultaneously be true; and second, it's time for a reality check when it comes to talking about immigration enforcement.

In vigorously attacking the notion that the administration is not doing enough to enforce our immigration laws the Secretary pointed out that along the border there have been unprecedented resources allocated and that the American side of the border has never been safer:

The least we owe them is an honest appraisal of their hard work and that appraisal is that, thanks to them, the border is safer than it has been in decades. We have committed unprecedented resources to this effort and, this year, will see yet again a historic drop in illegal crossings and more and more contraband seized. So let's take the "border is out of control" myth out of the equation.

She was particularly frustrated by those on capitol hill who said that there could be no movement on immigration until the border situation was taken care of. However it was when she began speaking about the administrations interior immigration enforcement that her tone changed. The Secretary stressed that what needed to occur was a federal legislative overhaul and that from process standpoint DHS can only do so much to try to help the situation. In discussing DHS's Immigration and Custom Enforcement memo of discretion which would prioritize the deportation of criminal immigrants, she stated that while the number of immigrants deported would again be at record levels, the composition of those deported would be much different:

This year, I expect removals will again be at historic levels. When we announce these year-end removal numbers, some will undoubtedly say that DHS, and the Administration more broadly, are doing our jobs too effectively. What those critics will ignore is that while the overall number of individuals removed will exceed prior years, the composition of that number will have fundamentally changed. It will consist of more convicted criminals, recent border crossers, egregious immigration law violators, and immigration fugitives than ever before.

What this speech did an excellent job of is showing the flaws in the current immigration system which does not adequately deal with immigrants currently in the country but also does not find a way to process future immigrants. This is beyond DHS's control and while things are far from perfect, the administration and DHS are doing their best to enforce the current laws but to do so in a more humane way. As Secretary Napolitano has noted in the past, the status will have to do until Congress decides to act.

For Secretary Napolitano's full speech please check here

For a Department of Homeland Security fact sheet on borer security and enforcement please check here

For more from NDN/NPI's new 21st Cenury Border website please check here

Veracity Of Texas Border Report Called Into Question

Last week the Texas State Government released a report on border violence. The report used mostly anecdotal information to paint a picture of the border as a war zone. A Texas Border Congressman and Mayor were quick to push back on the veracity of the report as it’s authors cite “”hundreds of people murdered on our side of the frontier,” a statistic that far exceeds the 22 killings (in the region) between January 2010 and May 2011 identified by the Department of Public Safety.”

The Texas Department of Agriculture joined with the Texas Department of Public Safety to release a report, commissioned at $80,000 of Texas tax payer money, by two retired four-star Army Generals Barry McCaffrey and retired Army Major-General Robert Scales to assess safety along the border.

Upon its release the report was almost immediately received with raised eyebrows from local and federal officials as well as state media outlets. Jeremy Schwartz, of the Austin American-Statesmen noted:

“During a news conference after the report was released, McCaffrey raised eyebrows when he spoke of “hundreds of people murdered on our side of the frontier,” a statistic that far exceeded the 22 killings between January 2010 and May 2011 identified by the Department of Public Safety as being related to drug cartels. When asked about the number, McCaffrey pointed to statements from a Brooks County rancher, who told reporters that hundreds of bodies had been found in the county in recent years.”

When asked to substantiate these findings the authors of the report deferred to a veterinarian appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry to the Texas Animal Health Commission. Michael Vickers, on top of being a veterinarian,  chair’s the Texas Border Volunteers, “a group that conducts patrols of private property and reports illegal immigration to the border patrol.”

El Paso Congressman Silvestre Reyes noted in an interview with the El Paso Times that the report was, sensationalistic, out-of-touch and politically motivated. He said the claim that drug cartels will seek refuge in the United States because of the increased effectiveness of Mexican federal authorities is ludicrous.  In a press release he went even further:

“In fact the report cites discredited sources like, launched by Staples, that has been criticized for supporting extreme solutions to secure the border — including the use of land mines and tiger traps along the U.S. Mexico border. This report also cites testimony by Rick Perry’s political appointee, Steven McCraw, who argued to the House Homeland Security Committee that El Paso was unsafe because it had a 1,200% percent increase in homicides last year and used this number as an indication of “spillover crime” — all while failing to mention that El Paso had one homicide in the first five months of 2010.”

Laredo Mayor and former FBI Agent Raul Salinas took this sentiment a step further:

“Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas, who was in Austin last weekend to speak at the Texas Tribune Festival, said the FBI crime statistics tell the true story. He said claims that the border is “under siege” are a bunch of “baloney.”

Paul Teeple, Director, A Ganar on working with communities in Ciudad Juarez

This week's featured border video is Paul Teeple, Director of the A Ganar Project. A Ganar is a youth workforce development program wrapped up in a soccer ball. By utilizing soccer and other team sports to help youth in Latin America, ages 16-24, find jobs, learn entrepreneurial skills, or re-enter the formal education system.

For more on our work on the 21st Century Border, visit here and be sure to check out our Youtube site where you can see a collection of more than 50 videos of 20 leaders from both sides of the border talking about their experiences in improving the border region. Our videos include regional mayors and sheriffs, and US and Mexican government officials.

Paul talks about A Ganar and the importance of cross border community development.

Paul on the violence in Ciudad Juarez.

Paul on how much of the violence in Mexico is stopped at the border.

Paul on the reality of working in Ciudad Juarez

News from above and below the Rio Bravo: Border rhetoric popped, Border arrests fall, Mexican insecurity perceptions debunked

In an effort to highlight the intermestic relationship between Mexico and the United States we will begin highlighting news stories from both countries.The natural dividing line between our two countries is the Rio Bravo, so we are featuring domestic stories, as coming from above and below the Rio Bravo:

News from above:

A report highlights some of the creative fantasies on the border put forth in the GOP debates, another focuses on the drop in the number of undocumented immigrants trying to get into the country, finally E-Verify may not get out of the House.

USA Today - Editorial: Immigration rhetoric disconnected from reality - "If Rick Perry's rivals for the Republican presidential nomination weren't so hell-bent on proving who can be the harshest and least thoughtful on the subject of illegal immigrants, they could learn something from the Texas governor."

The Wall Street Journal - The Illegal Immigration Collapse - Border arrests have fallen by a third in two years. - Highlights how enhanced border enforcement and a weak U.S. economy has resulted in the lowest level of undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. since the 1970s.

USA Today - House Immigration Status Check Bill Faces A Tough Road -   With complaints about accuracy of a program designed to fine employers over hiring undocumented immigrants, the GOP is divided over passage of E-Verify legislation.

News from below:

Latino business leaders recognize the adverse effects of anti-immigration legislation. Survey identifies discrepancies in perceptions of insecurity in Mexico. Economic turmoil in Europe affects U.S. – Mexico economic relations.

U.S. Hispanic chamber means business: During their 32nd annual convention Latino business leaders recognized the repercussions of Arizona’s anti-immigration laws on the states businesses.

Tourists are more worried about traffic than insecurity: A survey of national and international tourism into Mexico City reveals both Mexican and foreign tourists are more worried about traffic than insecurity.

Peso Bonds Slump in Split from Treasuries amid Greek Crisis: Mexico Credit: Europe’s debt crisis has broken the lockstep in trends between U.S. Treasuries and their counterpart, Mexican bonds.


Carlos Bustamonte, Mayor Of Tijuana Mexico on the importance of cross-border commerce

NDN/NPI are working to advance efforts to build a diverse and vibrant border economy, as such we have gone out into states along the border to talk to local elected officials on both sides of the border. Below is our interview with Carlos Bustamante, Mayor of Tijuana, Mexico.

Also Be sure to visit our 21st Century Border YouTube page, where you can see a collection of more than 50 videos of 20 leaders from both sides of the border talking about their experiences in improving the border region. Our videos include regional mayors and sheriffs, and US and Mexican government officials.

Mayor Bustamonte on the relationship Between Tijuana and San Diego

Mayor Bustamonte on revolving door economies

Mayor Bustamonte on The $6 Billion Mexican Tourists Spend In San Diego

Mayor Bustamonte on the Importance Of The Two Cities One Region Program

For more videos please go to our 21st Century Border YouTube page

From Pesos to Dollars: The Intermestic Relationship Beyond the U.S.- Mexico Exchange Rate

The ties between Mexico and the United States run deep. As such Mexico is particularly susceptible to commotion in the U.S. economy. Since 1994, Mexico has maintained a floating exchange rate, meaning that the value of its currency is mostly determined by market demand, and on Thursday the value of the peso plummeted to 14.20 pesos to the dollar.

Whenever the value of the peso decreases relative to that of the dollar the consequences are felt on both sides of the border.

On one hand, if you are earning dollars, you can suddenly buy more pesos with your same dollars. Living in the United States, you don’t usually buy pesos directly, but American businesses that buy Mexican products can now buy them more cheaply, passing on the savings to the consumer.

On the other hand, if you are a Mexican exporter to the United States, your products have suddenly become cheaper, allowing you to better compete against American domestic producers, and other global exporters, thus increasing profits and helping Mexico’s economy develop.

However, only about 30% of Mexico’s GDP comes from exports, and individuals outside the export sector of the economy are likely to see prices for American goods increase steadily. Although it is difficult to tease out the consequences of such fluctuations in exchange rates, the integration of our economies is undeniable.

Thanks to Dante Perez for his contributions to this post.

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