During his State of the Union address to the American people on Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump made a bold claim about the supposed successes of a border wall near El Paso, Texas.
Trump, in trying to tout the extension of a costly wall elsewhere on the U.S. southern border, suggested that things got better in El Paso after the construction of a border fence there nearly a decade ago.
“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,” Trump said in his speech Tuesday, per a transcript from the New York Times. “Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country.”
But some news media have pointed out that Trump’s claims lack context, including the fact that crime after the border wall’s construction actually went up.
That is a straight-up lie about El Paso, which was one of America’s safest large cities for violent crime before the fencing was erected and did not immediately see crime fall after the fence was built. Thorough debunking from https://t.co/YAFxOMPWKE: https://t.co/YrKQ3CnD6x pic.twitter.com/xAM4NycvQ6
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 6, 2019
Construction of the border wall at El Paso concluded at the end of the last decade, according to reporting from the El Paso Times. Violent crime was already very low in the city, before the wall was built, the publication points out.
Violent crime reached its height in the area in the early 1990s, and shifted downward over the next couple of decades. By 2006, the year the border wall was authorized by former President George W. Bush, crime had dropped by 34 percent.
Violent crime actually went up by 17 percent from that point until 2011, the Times noted. Crime went up in El Paso by 4 percent in the two years after construction of the border fence was completed.
Crime did drop in the years after that, but saw a dramatic increase again between the years 2013 and 2014.
This isn’t the first time the White House has used El Paso as an example for why a border wall should be built. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders made similar comments in 2018 about the alleged successes of the border wall in the city, which community leaders chastised, arguing instead that police and community efforts and reforms contributed to the drop in crime.