Veracity Of Texas Border Report Called Into Question

Last week the Texas State Government released a report on border violence. The report used mostly anecdotal information to paint a picture of the border as a war zone. A Texas Border Congressman and Mayor were quick to push back on the veracity of the report as it’s authors cite “”hundreds of people murdered on our side of the frontier,” a statistic that far exceeds the 22 killings (in the region) between January 2010 and May 2011 identified by the Department of Public Safety.”

The Texas Department of Agriculture joined with the Texas Department of Public Safety to release a report, commissioned at $80,000 of Texas tax payer money, by two retired four-star Army Generals Barry McCaffrey and retired Army Major-General Robert Scales to assess safety along the border.

Upon its release the report was almost immediately received with raised eyebrows from local and federal officials as well as state media outlets. Jeremy Schwartz, of the Austin American-Statesmen noted:

“During a news conference after the report was released, McCaffrey raised eyebrows when he spoke of “hundreds of people murdered on our side of the frontier,” a statistic that far exceeded the 22 killings between January 2010 and May 2011 identified by the Department of Public Safety as being related to drug cartels. When asked about the number, McCaffrey pointed to statements from a Brooks County rancher, who told reporters that hundreds of bodies had been found in the county in recent years.”

When asked to substantiate these findings the authors of the report deferred to a veterinarian appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry to the Texas Animal Health Commission. Michael Vickers, on top of being a veterinarian,  chair’s the Texas Border Volunteers, “a group that conducts patrols of private property and reports illegal immigration to the border patrol.”

El Paso Congressman Silvestre Reyes noted in an interview with the El Paso Times that the report was, sensationalistic, out-of-touch and politically motivated. He said the claim that drug cartels will seek refuge in the United States because of the increased effectiveness of Mexican federal authorities is ludicrous.  In a press release he went even further:

“In fact the report cites discredited sources like, launched by Staples, that has been criticized for supporting extreme solutions to secure the border — including the use of land mines and tiger traps along the U.S. Mexico border. This report also cites testimony by Rick Perry’s political appointee, Steven McCraw, who argued to the House Homeland Security Committee that El Paso was unsafe because it had a 1,200% percent increase in homicides last year and used this number as an indication of “spillover crime” — all while failing to mention that El Paso had one homicide in the first five months of 2010.”

Laredo Mayor and former FBI Agent Raul Salinas took this sentiment a step further:

“Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas, who was in Austin last weekend to speak at the Texas Tribune Festival, said the FBI crime statistics tell the true story. He said claims that the border is “under siege” are a bunch of “baloney.”