The President

Data Doesn't Back Up Trump's Claim About Crime Rates In El Paso

During his State of the Union address, President Trump claimed the border wall in El Paso, Texas, significantly reduced the city's violent crime.

Data Doesn't Back Up Trump's Claim About Crime Rates In El Paso
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As part of his push to build a border wall, President Donald Trump held up El Paso, Texas, as an example of how effective a wall can be. 

"The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the entire country, and considered one of our nation's most dangerous cities. Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country," President Trump said during the State of the Union. 

There are of a lot factors that impact a region's violent crime rate, so it's hard to definitively say how the border wall affected El Paso's crime rate, if at all. The president didn't mention specifics like a timeline or a definition of violent crime. But we can take a broad look at crime data complied by the FBI to see if his assertion holds up.

Let's start by digging into the claim that El Paso had "extremely high rates of violent crime." FBI data tracks violent crimes including murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery. From 1985-2014, the data shows El Paso's violent crime rate was consistently lower than many similarly sized cities', and from 2006-2014, El Paso had one of the *lowest violent crime rates from that group. 

Now let's bring in the border wall: Construction all along the southwest border kicked into high gear after President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Most of the border within and around El Paso city limits has taller fencing designed to stop people and vehicles from illegally entering the U.S. There are currently 132.5 miles of border barrier in Texas, and according to the state's attorney general, construction was finished in 2010.

But according to that FBI data we mentioned, the violent crime rate in El Paso wasn't drastically different after the wall was completed. In 2006, there were 393.5 violent crimes committed per 100,000 people. In 2010, that rate was 440.7, and in 2014 it was 392.6. 

Based on this data, President Trump's claim that the border wall dramatically impacted El Paso's violent crime rate doesn't hold up.

This story is reported in partnership with PolitiFact and is part of an in-depth analysis show called "What the Fact" that airs Sunday mornings on Newsy.