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Trump Repeats False Crime Claims in El Paso

The president claims “walls work.” But the facts say otherwise.

  • Brennan Center for Justice
February 12, 2019

At a “Finish the Wall” rally in El Paso, Texas on Monday, President Trump yet again repeated his refrain: “Walls work.” He has attempted to build a case for a border wall around mostly false narratives about crime and undocumented immigrants.

There was concern that Trump would use some of that fear mongering as pretext to declare a national emergency if Congress didn’t provide funding for a border barrier, though negotiators may be on track to defuse that threat after reaching a tentative funding deal this week.

Still, Trump’s rhetoric on crime and immigration is far from the truth. As the Associated Press reports:

“You know where [a wall] made a difference is right here in El Paso,” he said Monday, adding: “They’re full of crap when they claim it hasn’t made a big difference.”

But that’s not true.

El Paso had a murder rate of less than half the national average in 2005, a year before the most recent expansion of its border fence. That’s despite being just across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a city plagued by drug violence. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report shows that El Paso’s annual number of reported violent crimes dropped from nearly 5,000 in 1995 to around 2,700 in 2016. But that corresponded with similar declines in violent crime nationwide and included periods when the city’s crime rates increased year over year, despite new fencing and walls.

The Brennan Center’s ongoing research into crime data in the nation’s largest cities backs this up. Violent crime in the country’s major metropolitan areas, including El Paso, has dropped precipitously in the last quarter century.

(Image: Joe Raedle/Getty)