Border 'Mayhem'? An Illegal Immigration Fact Check Shows Violence Declining

By the numbers, the border appears as secure as its ever been.

ByABC News
May 19, 2010, 2:32 PM

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2010— -- Cochise County, Arizona – a sparsely-populated region the size of Rhode Island in the state's southwest corner – is ground zero in America's latest battle over illegal immigration.

In the past few months, aggressive Mexican drug smugglers and migrants have harassed residents of the county, burglarizing homes and taking food and clothing, local law enforcement officials say.

Ranchers have seen cattle slaughtered and pulled apart by hungry people stealing across the border, and one resident, Robert Krentz, may have been shot dead by an alleged illegal immigrant as he patrolled his land last month.

The U.S. Border Patrol says apprehensions along the Arizona-Mexico frontier are up 6 percent from October to April.

The situation is part of what Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has characterized as "murder, terror and mayhem" and used as justification for the state's controversial new immigration law. It's also why Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl say the federal government must deploy the National Guard to police the border.

But while several violent high-profile incidents in the Tucson, Arizona, sector have gained national attention and colored political rhetoric, an ABC News analysis of immigration and crime data, combined with interviews with law enforcement officials, shows something very different -- that violence and crime on the U.S. side of the 2,000-mile border with Mexico are generally on the decline.

By numbers alone, the border region appears, as Department of Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano put it, is as "secure now as it has ever been."