U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, teed off on House Speaker John Boehner by comparing cities in Boehner’s home state of Ohio to communities along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Monday, the day before President Barack Obama’s swing through El Paso and Austin, Reyes first noted a comment by the Republican speaker’s spokesman, Michael Steel. Steel said last week that before Congress takes up immigration policy, the priority "must be ending the violence at the border — we really can’t deal with other issues until it is secure." His comment appeared in the May 3 issue of Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.
Boehner, Reyes said in a press release, "should focus on controlling the level of violence in his own state before tarnishing the image of border communities that remain among the safest places to live in America. ... The fact remains that the six largest cities in Ohio all have higher rates of violence and crime than every major city along the U.S.-Mexico border."
Whoa. Do the Buckeye State’s largest cities have more violence and crime?
Looks like it.
As backup, Reyes cited research compiled by CQ Press, which said in a November 2010 press release that its latest compilation of city-by-city crime information reflects data for cities of at least 75,000 residents that reported crime data to the FBI for its Uniform Crime Reporting Program as of September 2010.
In 2009, over all, Ohio’s six most populous cities—Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron and Dayton—had higher crime rates than six border cities: San Diego, El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville, McAllen and Yuma, Arizona. The best-rated Ohio city, Columbus, was 49th, the worst-rated border city, Laredo, was 144th, according to CQ Press.
We verified the population of each of the dozen cities with the U.S. Census Bureau. Its 2010 counts suggest the average population of the Ohio cities was nearly 363,000 while the average population of the border cities was a little more than 447,000.
According to CQ Press’s report, the six Ohio cities had higher rates of murder, rape, robbery and burglary than the six border cities. For murder, specifically, the Ohio cities’ rates ranged from Dayton’s 25.5 per 100,000 residents down to Akron’s 9.7 per 100,000 residents. Among the border burgs, Laredo had the highest rate, 7.5 murders per 100,000 residents, El Paso had the lowest, 1.9.
In two crime categories, though, there are wrinkles unfavorable to the border.
Yuma had nearly 501 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents, second among all the checked cities to Toledo, Ohio, which had 629 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents. Four Ohio cities had higher rates than the other border cities, though Columbus, with nearly 170 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents, had a lower rate than any border cities except Brownsville and McAllen.
For motor vehicle theft, Cleveland topped the reviewed cities with 939 per 100,000 residents. Laredo placed second, though, with nearly 654 per 100,000 residents and San Diego was third, with 570 per 100,000 residents. Next, the five other most populous Ohio cities had greater motor vehicle theft rates than Yuma, Arizona or McAllen. El Paso, 305 per 100,000 residents, and Brownsville, 188 per 100,000 residents, had the lowest rates of motor vehicle theft.
Summing up: The six largest Ohio cities had higher overall crime rates and rates of murder, rape, robbery and burglary than the six major border cities. Yet a border city had a higher rate of aggravated assaults than four Ohio cities while the rate for Columbus was higher than the rate in two border cities. Also, all but one of the Ohio cities had lower rates of motor vehicle theft than Laredo.
We rate the statement Mostly True.
CORRECTION, 10:25 a.m., May 11, 2011: The day this article posted, we subsequently amended our reference to the 2009 rate of aggravated assaults in Columbus. The initial article incorrectly said the Ohio city had the lowest rate of all the checked cities. In addition, the article's conclusion was later amended to correct the Columbus reference.