McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — When Jim Darling became mayor of the largest city in the Rio Grande Valley in 2013, he had no idea he’d become “the immigration mayor,” as a surge of migrants a year later began crossing the Rio Grande in masses.
Since then, he says McAllen has gotten a bad rap. Some people think it’s like the Wild West, he told Border Report from his office at City Hall earlier this month. “But really, in McAllen, if you are here you wouldn’t know there was a crisis on the border.”
“It’s safer here than a lot of cities in the United States,” Darling said.
It’s safer here than a lot of cities in the United States.”McAllen Mayor Jim Darling
In fact, McAllen has been named one of the safest cities in America. It is listed as seventh-safest city in America, according to the most recent FBI statistics, and is the safest among Texas towns with a population of 150,000, Darling said.
“Crime is at a 30-year low. We had no murders last year,” Darling said. “Stolen cars are almost nonexistent in our community.”
McAllen residents reported 55 motor vehicle thefts in 2018, according to the latest crime statistics provided by the City of McAllen.
Nevertheless, every time the national media descend upon this South Texas town on an immigration-related story, Darling says he holds his breath expecting to hear more bad news about his beloved city.
He admits McAllen “is a drug corridor,” but he said a demand for drugs in the North drive dealers to push product through South Texas. “They’re going through, they really don’t want to be detected,” Darling said.
According to data from 2018, McAllen reported the following violent crimes: 39 rapes; 26 robberies; 57 aggravated assaults; 203 burglaries; 3,598 larceny/thefts and no murders.
Representing in Washington
To try and change the perception of South Texas, Mayor Darling says he participates in a couple White House immigration panels, including regular calls with the Intergovernmental Affairs Office. This included an Aug. 2 conference call, the same day he sat down for an interview with Border Report.
His goal: To refute the rhetoric “that murders and rapists are coming across,” he said. But that has gotten him in some hot water with Trump supporters, some who perceive his message “as refuting the government.”
But with a smile on his face he added: “Being a safe city is not news.”
Well, maybe, sometimes it is.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.