LAREDO, Texas (Border Report) — Two South Texas cities on the Mexican border have been named among the top 20 “safest cities” in America, according to a recent survey.
Laredo is listed as No. 3 in the 2022 Safest Cities in America survey out this week by WalletHub.
Brownsville, Texas, on the Gulf Coast, is listed twentieth.
This is despite repeated rhetoric often heard by politicians and others regarding the safety of border towns, something the Laredo mayor told Border Report he hopes will end with this ranking.
“We’ve been arguing that for years and hopefully this will get rid of that stigma that somehow border cities are unsafe and these reports consistently are coming out better and better now that border (cities), particularly Laredo and Brownsville are very safe,” Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz told Border Report on Tuesday.
Laredo ranked among the best in the nation for home and community safety, according to the survey.
“I’m a strong component of law enforcement,” Saenz said. “We work very closely with our federal agencies including Border Patrol, ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and we have more state personnel also guarding our border.”
Thousands of Texas National Guard and troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety are among those stationed in Laredo and Brownsville and other border towns under Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star border security initiative.
A Texas National Guardsman watches the border in Palmview, Texas, left; while DPS troopers and boat patrol line the banks of the Rio Grande in Anzalduas Park in Mission, Texas, as part of Operation Lone Star. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photos)
The survey rated 182 cities and compared resident’s safety, natural disaster risks, and financial stability, among several factors.
Columbia, Maryland, was ranked No. 1 “safest city,” followed by Nashua, New Hampshire. After Laredo, the other cities in top 20 include:
- Portland, Maine
- Warwick, Rhode Island,
- Yonkers, New York,
- Gilbert, Arizona
- Burlington, Vermont
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Lewiston, Maine
- Juneau, Alaska
- Winston-Salem, North Carolina
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Bismarck, North Dakota
- South Burlington, Vermont
- Chandler, Arizona
- Freemont, California
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Scottsdale, Arizona
- Brownsville, Texas
Brownsville, which borders the northern Mexican city of Matamoros, rated second in the nation for having the least natural disaster risk, but highest in the nation for unemployment rate and second-highest for percentage of uninsured population.
Laredo, which borders Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, rated fifth-best for cities with fewest hate crimes per capita, according to the survey.
Saenz said despite negative connotations often associated with border cities, he has always believed they were safe and strive to enforce laws.
“What creates the stigma is obviously violence that occurs on the other side, on the Mexican side of the border, and that’s unfortunate but I know they’re working on it. Hopefully someday it will diminish,” Saenz said.
Saenz is stepping down at year’s end as mayor, term-limited out, and said he hopes Laredo will continue to not be a sanctuary city.
“I personally felt that we should always work with law enforcement. That we are a community of rules and we need to enforce our laws and work very closely with law enforcement,” Saenz said. “We’ve never been a sanctuary city and hopefully we’ll continue that way as well. The law has to be respected.”
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com