News / USA

    Border City McAllen, Texas Prospers Despite Mexico Violence

    McAllen Economic Development Corporation President Keith Patridge
    McAllen Economic Development Corporation President Keith Patridge

    Multimedia

    A wave of criminal violence is sweeping across northern Mexico, especially in the areas that border the southern U.S. state of Texas. This has led to complaints from U.S. political leaders, including Texas Governor Rick Perry about threats to U.S. communities along the border.

    But FBI statistics show cities and towns on the U.S. side of the border to have lower crime rates than most of those found in other parts of the country. One of the most prosperous and peaceful places on the border is McAllen, Texas, in the lower Rio Grande River Valley.

    On the Mexican side of the border, violence has become commonplace as the Mexican government fights drug traffickers, kidnapping gangs, car thieves and bank robbers.  Many businesses in cities like Reynosa have closed and many middle and upper-class Mexicans have fled to the other side of the border.

    In McAllen, they find tranquil shopping centers and safe city streets.  The McAllen metropolitan area, with more than half a million people, is ranked the 14th safest in the country, compared to other metropolitan areas of similar size.

    But McAllen Economic Development Corporation President Keith Patridge says people in other parts of the country think the whole border area is dangerous.  

    "You would not believe the number of calls we get where the first question they ask is 'Is it safe to come to McAllen," said Patridge.

    Not only is it safe, says Patridge, it is booming, despite the violence in Mexico and the recession in the United States.

    "We were just recently recognized as the first city in the United States to reach pre-recessionary levels and the one thing we continue to be proud of is that we were one of the few metropolitan areas in the United States that has had positive job growth through the entire economic downturn," he said.

    McAllen thrives as an agricultural zone, where many fruits and vegetables are grown year round.  It also gets some tourism, especially in the winter months.

    But a big part of the economy here is the management and support services established for the assembly plant sector on the Mexican side of the line, where Keith Patridge says around 100,000 workers make products to be shipped back across the border.

    "We have a full spectrum of companies," said Patridge. "We do everything from computer chips, to motor boats and bowling balls."

    Professor John Sargent
    Professor John Sargent

    Keeping an eye on local economic trends is part of what Professor John Sargent does at the nearby University of Texas-Pan-American College of Business.  He says the economic growth in McAllen is impressive.

    "If you look over the last 10 years and you look at measures such as job creation, this has been one of the most dynamic metropolitan areas on the U.S.-Mexico border and it is consistently rated within the top five nationally," said Sargent.

    Sargent acknowledges that part of the growth has come from Mexicans with money fleeing the violence and investing in businesses on the U.S. side of the border, but he says that may not last.

    "Five years from now Mexico might be the place to invest, and by having a foot on both sides it is going to be easy for that individual to take advantage of the upswing in Mexico when it comes," he said.

    But such a turnaround in Mexico can only happen if the drug cartels stop fighting each other and the Mexican government eases its current offensive against them.

    To some extent, drug trafficking is part of the cross-border trade that has gone on here for more than 100 years; a case of supply meeting demand.

    Keith Patridge thinks things will improve in the next year or so as all sides tire of fighting.

    "So I think ultimately what will happen is that it will settle down again," he said. "People will start establishing an equilibrium and we will go back to where we were before this all started.:"

    That might be good for McAllen and the border economy, but the U.S. government will likely keep up pressure on Mexico to stop drug smugglers.

    But whether the situation improves or not, the trucks are likely to keep rolling back and forth, keeping the border economy vibrant.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora