San Diego Built a Border Wall. Did It Reduce Crime?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


The Republican health care bill was surrounded by so much brazen lying that it’s almost a relief to highlight a case of ordinary old misleading statistics. Here’s the Daily Signal showing us how much crime plummeted in San Diego after a border wall was built in the early 90s:

Not bad! Of course, crime was plummeting all over the country during this period. I’m too lazy to dredge up the 2015-16 figures, but here are the FBI crime stats for our biggest cities for 1989-2014. Normally I’d show crime rates, but the Daily Signal used total crimes so I will too:

There are basically two buckets here: a group of cities where crime fell by about 70 percent (bottom) and a group where crime fell by about 30 percent (top). San Diego is a good performer, but so are Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York. That’s three southwestern cities and one northern city. The top group of mediocre performers includes three southwestern cities and two northern cities.

So did San Diego’s wall make a difference? It sure doesn’t look like it. And that’s despite the fact that everyone agrees it significantly dented the rate of illegal border crossings.

The refreshing thing here is that this is just an ordinary old misdemeanor case of deception via omission. It almost makes me feel nostalgic. Hell, it might not even be a case of deliberate deception. It’s possible that reporter Kelsey Harkness had no idea that plummeting crime was a nationwide phenomenon. Not everyone reads Mother Jones, after all.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate