Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Crime Along the Mexican Border Is Lower Than in the Rest of the Country

By Alex Nowrasteh 

We’ve addressed the terrorism and crime arguments frequently, but only rarely touch on border crime.  Border counties have far less crime per capita than American counties that are not along the border. 
If the entire United States in 2017 had crime rates identical to those in counties along the U.S.-Mexico border, there would have been 5,720 fewer homicides, 159,036 fewer property crimes, and 99,205 fewer violent crimes across the entire country.  If the entire United States had crime rates as low as those along the border in 2017, then the number of homicides would have been 33.8 percent lower, property crimes would have been 2.1 percent lower, and violent crimes would have dropped 8 percent.
Table 1
Crime Rates by Counties in 2017, per 100,000
Violent Crime RateProperty Crime RateHomicide Rate
Border counties347.82,207.13.4
Non-border counties378.62,256.45.2
United States377.82,255.25.1
Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports 2017.
The numbers in Table 1 come from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports for 2017 that we obtained via a special request from the FBI.  The crime rates are organized by county, with all crimes reported to sub-county agencies added up using county codes from the FBI’s 2012 Law Enforcement Agency Identifiers Crosswalk.  The population figures also come from the FBI and are based on the intercensal reports obtained by the FBI from the Census Bureau.  The 23 border counties are lumped together as one and compared to the non-border counties. The numbers for the entire United States are in the last row. 
Sheriff Ronny Dodson of Brewster County Texas said, “A lot of politicians are running on securing the border.  One’s got a six point plan, one’s got a nine point plan. They’re throwing tons of money at this border. I wish they’d just shut up about it.”  Dodson went on to say, “I think they’re [politicians] just throwing money at the border for nothing. I think people on the interior see all these shows about the border where there’s violence.” 
Although Dodson’s comment is just rhetoric, there is a lot more empirical support for his claims than there is for those who claim that there is a border crime crisis.
The above originally appeared at

RW  note:

From US News Reports 

Hispanics tend to be clustered in the southern border states, with New Mexico (48.8 percent Hispanic). Texas (39.4 percent) and California (39.1 percent) having the highest Hispanic populations


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Re: Sherlock,

      ── Those crimes committed by criminal aliens would not have happened at all if border security was strong, or I should say less likely to have happened. ──

      Or if they hadn't been born! Imagine the paradise we would all live in!

      CATO already showed severe flaws in the GAO report and yet you waltzed right in with the same number and assumptions. Immigrants do not come from the border only, so to say that stronger border security would lead to better outcomes is a classic case of a Nirvana fallacy.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Sherlock, in both this and the other posts, you're taking a very utilitarian approach to your analysis. While that is one strain of libertarianism argued by the likes of Cato, I would suggest to you that that type of libertarianism just ends up being a "my data vs. your data" argument (unless one uses Austrian economics) and, I think, misses what I regard as the essence of libertarianism, namely, the moral argument. If A and B want to engage in a personal or commercial relationship which requires physical proximity, from where does C get the right to use violence to interfere in that relationship?

    4. Re: Sherlock,

      ── could you stick to that? ──

      Let's stick to being honest. Stop pretending that you want to be a good libertarian while at the same time using the same "Well, if we can save ONE life it'll be worth it!" anti-freedom argument that the left relies on every day to attack things like, for instance, gun ownership. Saying that there are bad people who come into the country is like pointing out the existence of bad lettuce to argue for restricting the purchase or eating of lettuce by regular folks who are not interested in your busybody tendencies. Of course there will be some bad people coming in, that's the risk of having a free society; but that doesn't mean that the government gets to decide who you can hire or rent to, buy from or even marry. Immigration (which will NEVER be 'massive', notwithstanding Trumpista paranoid nightmares) is and will always be regulated by THE MARKET. Evidence of this is that immigration from Mexico is now a net NEGATIVE because that country's economy has improved by strides since the one-party regime was defeated in the year 2000. That's the Market talking. Putting yourself (through the agency of the Sate) between Market actors is not evidence of your presumed libertarian bona fides.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Sherlock, two points.

      First, using Austrian economics, one can make an economic case for a free flow of immigrants (subject to one's right to exclude anyone from one's private property). That is, since every voluntary exchange is, ex ante, a gain for both parties, the more voluntary exchanges one can enter into, the better off one is. Immigrants increase the number of possible voluntary exchanges. This is just a more specific instance of Julian Simon's overall point that humans are the ultimate resource, because we innovate.

      Second, with respect to your fear that more immigration endangers your family, even if this were credible, I would suggest that looking to the state to protect your family is a practical mistake. You cannot influence the state's actions, and the state is a very blunt and incompetent instrument which doesn't care about you, and will only violate your family's rights to income, private property, and voluntary exchanges -- as well as peaceful existence, if your family gets caught in the crossfire when the state is prosecuting victimless crimes -- in the course of pretending to protect you. To protect your family, instead, you should rely on personal self-defense (I'm sure that, as a former cop, you're quite capable at this), teaming up with other like-minded members of your community to patrol neighborhoods and/or exclude undesirables, and, if necessary, moving to a place that is less exposed to the immigrants whom you may fear. In these ways you will stand a better chance of achieving both ends, namely, family protection, and not acting contrary to, or advocating against, the NAP.

    7. Re: Sherlock,

      ── But, for a thought experiment, let's assume it is: if the short term cost of libertarian purity is high (take any policy), is it the right thing to do? ──

      Are you now arguing that ends justify means? Utilitarian arguments? Where would it end? Once you go that path, at which point do you say "Ok, that's too much raping of libertarian ideals, maybe we took it too far"? What do you think drives such horrible impositions as the war on drugs, or the war on paid sex? Surely the "short term costs to libertarian purity" are very high in each case but are you going to argue that the results of each outweigh the costs to freedom?

      That's the problem with utilitarian arguments: You can only know the costs when it is too late already. The damage is already done. Consistency with the NAP means not assuming that you're Gawd and that you know everything, because a) You're certainly not Gawd and b) You don't know everything. The deference to freedom is based on the realization that we're imperfect beings. The other way around - imposing restrictions on people because they're imperfect - is based on hubris, on arrogance, on fancying yourself perfect.

    8. More name calling yet again by Torres who won't do anything differently.

      I notice Sherlock doesn't behave this way, which is why I read his posts and usually skip over yours.

      You may advocate for liberty, but your presentation leaves a lot to be desired. (And I'm sure I'll be labeled a "Trumpista" or a "racist" or who knows what).

    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    10. "Could the anti-utilitarian argument work in reverse? No matter the consequences (up to and including extinction) the NAP must be observed? Is there a limit to NAP observation."

      Sherlock, self-defense, closed private-property borders, and voluntary group cooperation are not violations of the NAP, so I feel certain that there is plenty of scope within the NAP to avoid extinction.

  2. Comparing largely rural border counties to others is an odd choice, and making these broad conclusions from this is faulty reasoning. Rural and urban areas are very different and you could likely make the same comparisons with many rural areas around the country and conclude that Nebraskans, and Idahoans are more civilized than city folk. In addition, the assumption that illegal immigrants stay in border counties is erroneous. They gravitate to jobs in urban centers that are generally not located in border counties.