February 11, 2019 8:48 pm
Updated: February 12, 2019 8:30 am

Beto O’Rourke says U.S.-Mexico border cities have less violent crime than interior ones — some data agrees

Former Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke held a rally Monday night in El Paso, in which he said that violent crime is lower in cities along the U.S.-Mexico border than it is in other cities further inland.


Beto O’Rourke held a rally in El Paso at the same time as U.S. President Donald Trump carried out his own event in the Texas border city on Monday night.

O’Rourke, a former El Paso city councilman who lost to Ted Cruz in the race for a Senate seat for Texas in November, spoke at Chalio Acosta Park at 6 p.m. MT.

WATCH: Supporters of Beto O’Rourke gear up to host a rally in El Paso, Texas

The rally came as a Republican senator said an “agreement in principle” had been reached in talks toward a deal on border security funding.

In his State of the Union address last week, Trump said that El Paso “used to have extremely high rates of violent crime,” which went down “immediately” upon the building of a powerful barrier.

The El Paso Times reported that this was not the case.

Some kind of barrier has always divided El Paso from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which is located directly to its south.

New fencing was erected starting in 2008 and it was completed in 2009.

Violent crime in the city peaked in 1993 but subsequently plummeted, reaching a 20-year low in 2006.

WATCH: Beto O’Rourke says Trump offered ‘lies’ during SOTU ‘about El Paso being dangerous’

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READ MORE: FULL TEXT — Donald Trump’s State of the Union address

Speaking at the rally at Chalio Acosta Park, O’Rourke called El Paso “one of the safest cities in the United States of America.”

He said it’s safe, “not because of walls, but in spite of walls.”

O’Rourke said that building a wall at a time of historically low northbound apprehensions would require the government to “take someone’s property, their house, their farm, their ranch.”

He said cities along the U.S.-Mexico border, such as El Paso, McAllen, Texas and San Diego, “are far safer than the cities in the interior of the United States of America.”

The claim that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the U.S. doesn’t quite line up with the data surrounding violent crime — the city’s violent crime rate per 100,000 was 356.3 in 2017, the most recent year for which statistics were available from the FBI.

That was less than major cities such as the Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia area, where the rate was 1,030.8.

The McAllen area, meanwhile, had a rate of 292.8 per 100,000, while San Diego’s was 337.1.

But the crime rate wasn’t exactly the lowest, either — lower rates were observed in several cities with populations over 100,000 people.

WATCH: Trump to rally supporters in Texas for border wall

“We know that walls do not save lives, walls end lives,” O’Rourke said.

Building walls, he asserted, would force migrants to “more treacherous stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border, thereby ensuring more suffering and death.”

O’Rourke also said that immigrants commit crime at a lower rate than do Americans who were born in the United States.

Statistics cited by the Brookings Institution show that immigration does not boost crime rates.

Native-born Americans formed a higher share of those arrested, charged and convicted over the past two years, according to the institution.

“We together, are making a stand for the truth, against lies, and hate, and ignorance and intolerance,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke noted that it was Father’s Day last year — June 17, 2018 — when Americans learned that Trump “was taking kids, taking babies from their moms and dads.”

He was referring to the family separation policy, which involved taking children away from their unauthorized immigrant parents when they crossed into the U.S. from Mexico.

Knowledge of that issue began long before June 2018, however.

WATCH: July 11, 2018 — One family’s story of separation at the U.S. border

It was April 2018 when then-attorney general Jeff Sessions announced a “zero-tolerance policy” for illegal entry — this was the policy that led to the separations.

Later that month, The New York Times reported that hundreds of immigrant children had been taken from their parents at the border.

USA Today noted, however, that public interest in the issue spiked on June 17, 2018 — that’s borne out by Google Trends.

Ultimately, O’Rourke delivered the message that “the judgment of the people of the future, our kids and grandkids and the generations that will succeed them, are looking back at this moment to see what we do as we define ourselves and this country.”

El Paso, he said, is the “example that the United States of America needs right now.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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