Passage of the $600 million border bill through the House of Representatives today is a clear indication that Congress is still more interested in throwing money at our broken immigration system rather than rolling up their sleeves and fixing it. Politicians, including President Obama, continue to respond to reports of border violence by upping the budget of DHS without hard facts, relying on media reports that the safety of U.S. citizens is at stake along the U.S.- Mexico border .

Yet, in stunning contrast today, the Border Network for Human Rights released the results of a poll conducted July 14-15 among residents who live along the U.S.–Mexico border. The poll revealed that among the 1,222 border residents surveyed, the overwhelmingly majority felt safe—in the communities such as Douglas, Nogales and Yuma, Arizona; El Centro and San Diego, California; Las Cruces, New Mexico, and four Texas border cities including Brownsville, El Paso, Laredo and McAllen.

Results from the poll shatter the national perception of border community safety. The report notes:

The overwhelming majority of respondents said they felt safe living in their border communities (67.1 percent), they felt their neighborhood was as safe as most neighborhoods in the United States (69.7 percent), and they felt safe going about their daily activities (walking and driving in their neighborhood: 87.5 percent; and allowing a child to play in a neighborhood park: 51.8 percent). Only 7.8 percent of respondents said they did not feel safe walking or driving in their neighborhood.

In Douglas, Ariz., 76.8 percent of respondents said they felt safe as they walked and drove in their neighborhood during their regular daily activities; in Nogales, they were 90 percent; and in Yuma, they were 94.5 percent.

The report ends with a set of policy recommendations which do not call for an end to all border enforcement, but rather a beginning for smarter enforcement policies—including a closer look at “the cost-effectiveness of border enforcement policies.” This review, in addition to getting a true sense of how those residents on the border actually feel about their safety and security, would be a good starting place for Congress. This poll reflects a side to the immigration debate that is being drowned out by the sensational rhetoric of a small but loud group of politicians running for reelection.

Photo by mkrigsman.