Responding to a comment by a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) about violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, Texas Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes on Tuesday accused the speaker of distorting the safety of border towns and pointed out that Boehner's home state of Ohio sees more violent crime than major Texas cities along the border.
"Speaker Boehner 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," Reyes, who represents El Paso, Texas, said in a statement.
President Obama will visit Reyes' district today to speak about immigration reform -- a topic that, until this week, had been out of the news for some time.
Reyes said that Boehner's home district is more violent than Texas's largest border cities, though Reyes appears only to have analyzed the city of Dayton, Ohio -- part of which falls in Boehner's district. Dayton saw more homicides in 2009 than Texas's four largest border cities combined, according to local crime statistics, Reyes's office said. Boehner represents northeastern Dayton, splitting the city with Rep. Mike Turner (R).
"Our first priority must be ending the violence at the border -- we really can't deal with other issues until it is secure," Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, told Roll Call last week when asked about the administration renewed push for immigration reform.
Though President Obama pledged to enact immigration reform during his first term in office, he lacks the congressional votes necessary to pass comprehensive legislation. As such, there has been no major push to reform the nation's immigration system since former president George W. Bush occupied the White House.
Reyes, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has pushed the Obama administration to pursue comprehensive legislation in Congress since 2009.
Reyes compiled city crime statistics comparing Ohio to the U.S. border (see all of them here). Here are the statistics for murder, directly comparing Dayton, Ohio, to U.S. border cities: