LatinaLista — When President Obama arrived in Texas yesterday, one of the first people to greet him was the Lone Star State’s Gov. Rick Perry. Waiting on the tarmac at the foot of the steps of Air Force One, Perry stood waiting in the sweltering Texas heat wearing cowboy boots and holding a letter in his hand.
As soon as pleasantries were done, Perry thrust the letter towards one of Obama’s aides.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry greets President Obama upon his arrival in Austin on Monday, Aug. 9, and reaches for a letter, later given to an aide, asking the President for more border security along Texas and Mexico border.
When later asked by local TV stations about the letter, Perry replied that he was disappointed that he wasn’t given more time to discuss the “dire” issue he outlined in the letter and he hoped that Obama would read it.
What was the letter about? Border security.
According to Perry, the promised 286 National Guard troops due to come to Texas to help patrol the TX-MX portion of the border is just too inadequate. But it’s not undocumented immigrants that have Perry worried, or is even the reason for asking for additional troops. It’s the violence happening in Mexico that Perry says is showing signs of spilling over to Texas and threatening the safety of U.S. residents.
Unfortunately, like Gov. Brewer’s statement about “headless bodies” found in the Arizona desert, the facts don’t match the statement. In fact, a new poll released today show that the only people who are claiming the sky is falling along the U.S.-Mexico border are the politicians.
Border residents have a totally different perspective.
In the poll Safety Survey, commissioned by the El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights, border residents in ten different communities spanning from California to Texas were asked several questions about how safe they felt living so close to the Mexican border.
The polled communities were: Arizona: Douglas, Nogales, Yuma; California: El Centro, San Diego; New Mexico: Las Cruces; Texas: Brownsville, El Paso, Laredo, McAllen.
A representative for the pollster The Reuel Group, Russell Autry, told reporters on a conference call that all 1,222 people polled was an American voter since it was considered they were the ones to effect policy change.
According to the poll when residents were asked:
Do you feel safe as you walk and drive in your neighborhood during your regular daily activities? 87.5 percent responded yes.
Do you feel that your neighborhood is as safe as most neighborhoods in the United States? 69.7 percent said yes.
Do you feel safe living in your border community? 67.1 percent replied in the affirmative.
Fernando GarcÃa, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights told reporters that the poll “sets the record straight” when it comes to border security. He said that the findings challenge the “artificial debate” now happening in Washington and exposes how politicians are using the issue as a political tool and saying things and passing measures that “do not reflect the situation on the ground.”
El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles concurred. He said that he believes resources are misdirected at the border and pointed out that El Paso has been named for several years as the second safest city in the nation with only two homicides committed this year in El Paso.
In addressing spillover violence, Sheriff Wiles said,”We’ve had spillover (violence) forever, ever since I started on the force.” However Wiles thinks there are three reasons why El Paso has seen little of the spillover violence as claimed by Gov. Perry.
First, Sheriff Wiles said because El Paso is a border town and port of entry there already exists a large contingent of law enforcement from different branches in El Paso. Wiles said that everyone from the FBI to Border Patrol to local law enforcement all work closely together with the communities.
Secondly, Mexican criminals realize it’s easier to get away with crime in Mexico rather than if committed in the United States. Wiles said that the Mexican police just don’t have the support infrastructure to adequately do their jobs which means more criminals never are held accountable for their crimes.
Thirdly, there is a substantial business interest from the cartels who are trafficking in drugs to keep the port of entry in El Paso open. When the port is shut down, they lose money.
The only state legislator on the conference call, Arizona State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema disputed her state’s governor’s claim of violence along the border.
“We have not seen an increase in border violence in the last 15 years,” Rep. Sinema said. She said that the outcry about the border being unsafe is coming from people who live in the interior of her state, like Phoenix. She said some of them have never even been to the border but they are the ones trying to instill the most fear into people.
None of the speakers on the call welcomed the news that the House of Representatives approved this morning $600 million in emergency funding to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border.
There was a consensus that instead of addressing a non-existent problem with taxpayers’ money, a more prudent move would be to address the real problem in the border security debate — comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum when asked if the House passage wasn’t a silver lining for the introduction of CIR, since this has been a sticking point for the GOP before they consider moving forward addressing the issue, said, “The silver lining for this (very) bad move will be if Democrats really take the lead on this issue and come back in Sept. with a real plan for passing CIR.”
Added Rep. Sinema, “If border security is a prerequisite for CIR, then why hasn’t the last 15 years been sufficient for the GOP?”
“We’ve done enough on enforcement,” said Garcia. “Enough is enough.”