Even as politicians say more federal aid is needed to fight rising violence along the U.S.-Mexican border, government data obtained by the Associated Press indicate that the area actually isn’t so dangerous after all. The top four big U.S. cities America with the lowest rates of reported violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso, and Austin, says an FBI compilation issued last month. 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.
The Customs and Border Protection study, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, shows 3 percent of Border Patrol agents and officers were assaulted last year, mostly when assailants threw rocks at them. That compares with 11 percent of police officers and sheriff’s deputies assaulted during the same period, usually with guns or knives. Violent attacks against agents declined in 2009 along most of the border for the first time in seven years. “The border is safer now than it’s ever been,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling. He said one factor is that with fewer jobs available in the U.S. recession, illegal immigration has dropped. The Border Patrol has doubled the number of agents in the region since 2004.