What are the facts about activity at the U.S./Mexico border?

Although I am anti-wall, and have quoted statistics that show that there is not a significant threat to national security from people crossing our southern border, sometimes I will see something that gives me pause, like this posted on social media:

I try to stay objective and do wonder if this is an exaggeration or outright false, or whether this is something that is getting short shrift in mainstream media reporting.

Who has the straight dope?

If you search for gunfire at the US Mexican US border, the last reported incident that might be of that type is Sep 10 2018, so I don’t think it’s almost daily. I think if there were a lot of such incidents, 45 would be telling us all the time. Even if there were incidents, I’m not sure how we could determine they were by scouts for drug runners or illegal immigrants unless they were caught, and we’d certainly hear about that.

And the incident last September took place where there was a fence.

I don’t know if or how this might be related to the OP.

A nephew of mine was home on leave over the holidays. He is in the Army, stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. I asked him if he had gone over into Mexico. He replied “We’re not allowed to cross the border. Soldiers get killed over there.”

Of course, gunfire at the border might also be due to American citizens in no official capacity attempting to stop nonviolent border-crossers.

I can believe that the base’s policy prohibits soldiers crossing the border. I can believe that some of the soldiers think that the reason for that policy is that “soldiers get killed over there”. I have a harder time believing that that’s the actual reason for the policy (since I can think of plenty of other reasons), nor that it’s actually true that they’d get killed.

It’s likely the reason given by whoever communicated the restriction actually was “soldiers get killed over there”. I’ve been subject to such leave-briefings and they always give a worst case scenario. Something really bad happened to a soldier 10 or 20 years prior and they never stop mentioning it.

I was in AF tech school on the Mississippi coast in 1979 and they were giving warnings about how the beach was dangerous because of Hurricane Camille. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but the hurricane had somehow made the beaches dangerous 10 years later. They probably still give that warning.

Travel to Mexico for service members has been discouraged since at least 1967, when I joined up, so it’s not a new thing. It’s not because Mexico was dangerous overall, but the port of entry towns like Tijuana definitely were.

According to what I’ve seen in the news and other sources, border crossings are not the huge issue for them that Trump makes them out to be. In some areas, being unable to freely cross both ways is a larger problem economically because of labor issues, and also because of access to family when there is intermarriage. NYT article about it.

I think this is specific to Juarez, which is right across the border from El Paso (where Fort Bliss is). It is true that US government personnel are prohibited from traveling to Juarez because of high rate of violent crime there.

And yes, there is a fence/wall between Juarez and El Paso.

I was at Bliss 80-85 never had problems in Juarez, used to go all the time. Times have changed though and I can understand a military ban now.

When I was in the Navy’s electrician school in Port Hueneme, CA, our class leader (a Marine) failed to show up one Monday morning. Turned out that he had gone to Tijuana for the weekend and gotten himself arrested for whatever reason. Luckily, between the money that he had on him and some intervention by the local American consulate, he was back by the end of the week.

I can’t help but think of this movie scene whenever Juarez comes up.

What kind of facts are you looking for, exactly? Just facts about violent encounters involving the CBP? Are you distinguishing between rural and metropolitan areas?

I go to Tijuana, Tecate and other parts of Baja all the time. I can’t imagine why U.S. service members would have problems more than anyone else, if they’re out of uniform.

I think a lot of people don’t realize that border cities are not separate from each other just because there’s a border. The San Diego-Tijuana area is in many ways a single cultural and economic zone. Many people live in TJ and work or go to school in San Diego, etc. Many people who live in Tijuana cross the border on a regular basis just to go shopping. There’s a whole gourmet restaurant movement that’s thriving in Tijuana now, attracting food critics who cross the border regularly to try the latest haute cuisine.

Official agencies always put out notices about the “dangers” of the Mexican side of the border, but those tend to be extrapolated from the violence that occurs between drug cartels, and usually occurs in colonias where few people from the U.S. have any reason to go.

This is only an anecdote, and is NOT formal data, but as a resident of San Diego who likes to shoot outdoors, here is what I can tell you about ‘gunfire at the border’:

There is an area in the East County called Delzura that is an unofficial shooting area, specifically at the end of Marron Valley Road that goes right up to the border. It is very hilly in that area so there are lots of nice backstops to use that can accommodate a good number of groups, and it is not far from town, so it doesn’t involve a 1.5 hour drive out to the desert around Jacumba, which is probably the first legal place to go shooting outdoors around here.

The Border Patrol is very active in the area and often has officers right at the entrance of Marron Valley Road past the South Bay Rod and Gun Club where it turns to dirt, who will escort groups of shooters out to different areas and make sure no one is shooting towards one another, that groups are spread out by a good distance, etc. One agent I spoke to said they do this as a courtesy, but also because the background gunfire scares illegals from crossing in the area. As such, at most times of the day, and especially during the winter months, there is probably at least some gun fire in that area. I could easily see a new Border Patrol agent who was unaware of that shooting area thinking it was agents engaging in cross border fire, when there is nothing further from the truth. Although remember that the hills hide the shooters and echo the gunfire so those agents could just be assuming the worst.

I myself have gone shooting there probably a dozen times and find it very nice and convenient in a state that is otherwise pretty “gun-unfriendly” to people shooting outside of a range. Personally, I prefer shooting outdoors because you never know who the person is in the lane next to you and if they are safe, new to shooting, etc. And shooting outside is free versus paying range fees…

You must mean Dulzura. Taking 94 to Tecate is more pleasant way to get into Baja, if you have the time to take the slower road. I’ve been invited by friends to shoot there, but never have gotten around to it.

When violence on the border results in actual injuries, it makes the news. I don’t know why the Border Patrol would keep any serious encounters secret. The notion that it’s a “war zone” is just ludicrous.

The last part ("… funny that never makes the news") really pings my BS meter – sounds like someone with a bias against the news media. So I’d be skeptical right there.

Then a bit of thought makes it seem unlikely. Drug runners & illegal immigrants both want to not be seen – so why would they attract attention by shooting off guns? Especially when they have the option of just sitting quietly for a few minutes, and the border agents will have moved on to patrol further along (the border is long, and border agents are few. They don’t sit around like a prison wall guard; they keep moving to patrol the miles of border they hasve to cover.)

This was my line of thinking also, but I don’t like to dismiss things out of hand without having facts to confirm or refute. These people want to sneak over the border, not start a war. They would have nothing at all to gain by firing on the border patrol.

It’s not as if soldiers in civvies have neon lights saying “yo, I’m a soldier in civvies!” Well, unless they stand at attention and salute upon encountering someone in uniform, but they’re not supposed to do that.

Telling your people not to go into a high-crime area makes perfect sense whether they’re civilians or soldiers, but the last part is key: the issue is not “soldiers get killed there”, it’s “people get killed there”.