The border town of McAllen, Texas, greeted President Donald Trump last week with this theater marquee announcement: “Welcome to the 7th Safest City in America.”
Such braggadocio evokes the oft-quoted observation that there are three kinds of prevarications: “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.”
While McAllen’s safety claim has a patina of plausibility – it came from a 2015 list posted by SmartAsset.com – the city is immersed in a crime wave that flows daily over the border and across the Rio Grande Valley.
Of the 30 most dangerous cities in Texas, four are in McAllen’s home county of Hidalgo. The neighboring town of Donna has the third highest violent crime rate in the Lone Star State, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Up the river, between McAllen and Laredo, 30 people were killed last week during a gang battle in the Mexican town of Miguel Aleman, long infested by the Zetas drug cartel.
Much of the crime that spills over the border is drug-related. McAllen’s hometown boosters may sport rose-colored glasses, but it won’t change the fact that illegal smuggling of narcotics and humans is going on under their noses. Anyone paying the slightest attention knows that cross-border criminal syndicates are entrenched, multibillion-dollar enterprises doing a brisk business throughout the Rio Grande Valley.
Last year, FAIR reported that nearly half of all federal crimes prosecuted in the United States are committed within miles of the southern border, which keeps the federal court dockets full to overflowing in McAllen.
Manuel Cruz, director of homeland security for the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, says the actual crime rate is higher than official statistics let on. He notes that crimes – even violent ones – are not always reported.
Perhaps these day-to-day realities account for the many signs hailing President Trump’s arrival in McAllen, last week, including those bearing the message: “Hispanics For The Wall.”
As a corridor for illegal traffic, McAllen and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley are an entry point for migrants who disperse to wreak havoc throughout the state. According to a recent report, more than 276,000 criminal aliens were booked into Texas jails between June 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2018. They were charged with more than 292,000 criminal offenses, including 539 homicides.
Just as disturbing, more public officials were convicted of corruption charges in South Texas than any other place in America. At least five Valley sheriffs were jailed for taking bribes from drug traffickers during the past two decades.
This is not to accuse the proud civic officials of McAllen of any such misbehavior. But pride goes before the fall, and public servants cannot secure their communities by sticking their heads in the Rio Grande Valley sand.