El Paso is the safest large city in the United States, according to a report released by Congressional Quarterly on Tuesday. This is the third year in a row the Texas border town has earned this ranking; it has been in the top three since 1997. Austin and San Antonio followed close behind on the list at spots four and ten, respectively.
Officials credit a “great Police Department” and “a focus on community policing,” reported the El Paso Times . The list, titled “City Crime Rankings 2013,” is built from 2011 FBI crime data.
Adding to the good news of the day, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano concluded her visit to El Paso by declaring the border increasingly secure. Napolitano took a helicopter tour of the border, met with Mayor John Cook, and visited Border Patrol agents. In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, she discounted insistence that we leave our immigration laws untouched until the border is more secure.
"That argument not only ignores the unprecedented gains we've made in border security, it suffers from a fundamental flaw," Napolitano said. "The fundamental flaw is that it somehow says that border security is unrelated with what we do with interior enforcement."
U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D- El Paso) agreed with Napolitano’s view on immigration reform. “[W]e cannot allow comprehensive immigration reform to be derailed by those that refuse to see the reality of the border,” he said.
The opposing, primarily Republican view, to which O’Rourke was referring, is evident in statements made by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R- Texas) the day before Napolitano’s visit. “I hope Sec. Napolitano returns to Washington and relays to the President and Senate Democrats what Texans already know: our border is not secure and the federal government has a long way to go,” the Senator said.
El Paso is currently executing an “urban redevelopment scheme,” dubbed Plan El Paso, which won a Smart Growth Achievement award from the EPA in 2011. The controversial plan promises a spruced-up zoo, Hispanic heritage museum, and a much-contested minor league baseball stadium where the city hall now sits. It may, however, also promise just the sort of economic development that could secure El Paso's top safety ranking for years to come.