Monday, July 06, 2009

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way By conventional wisdom, El Paso, Texas should be one of the scariest cities in America. In 2007, the city's poverty rate was a shade over 27 percent, more than twice the national average. Median household income was $35,600, well below the national average of $48,000. El Paso is three-quarters Hispanic, and more than a quarter of its residents are foreign-born. Given that it's nearly impossiblefor low-skilled immigrants to work in the United States legitimately, it's safe to say that a significant percentage of El Paso's foreign-born population is living here illegally.

El Paso also has some of the laxer gun control policies of any non-Texan big city in the country, mostly due to gun-friendly state law. And famously, El Paso sits just over the Rio Grande from one of the most violent cities in the western hemisphere, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, home to a staggering 2,500 homicides in the last 18 months alone. A city of illegal immigrants with easy access to guns, just across the river from a metropolis ripped apart by brutal drug war violence. Should be a bloodbath, right?

Here's the surprise: There were just 18 murders in El Paso last year, in a city of 736,000 people. To compare, Baltimore, with 637,000 residents, had 234 killings. In fact, since the beginning of 2008, there were nearly as many El Pasoans murdered while visiting Juarez (20) than there were murdered in their home town (23).

El Paso is among the safest big cities in America.


  1. That's a surprise, Bill, but not sure why. I have a friend who used to live there and loved it.

  2. Jerry House3:11 PM

    Marty Robbins would have been pleased

  3. There were articles about El Paso's low murder rate 35 years ago. I think it was also mentioned in the original "Stepford Wives" movie. At the time there was even speculation that it was "something in the water" like a natural tranquilizer. I'm surprised it's still such a peaceful place.

  4. Anonymous4:59 PM

    A brilliant New Yorker piece on medical costs compared McAllen, TX, which has the highest Medicare costs per capita in the country, with El Paso, which has the same demographics but among the lowest costs. What gives? El Paso's doctors treat their profession as a calling; McAllen's doctors and hospitals treat medical care as a lucrative business to be exploited every way possible.

    Richard Wheeler

  5. Thanks for the tip, Richard. I have a whole stack of New Yorkers here that I need to go through.

  6. when everyone's armed people think twice before pulling a gun.