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Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso

In reference to my recent announcement of Ralexwin's mobilization to Texas I have received several inquiries as to why I wasn't going to go with him.

So today I thought I'd talk to you about my aversion to all things El Paso.

But first a question. Have you ever been to El Paso?

I once heard Ralexwin's Commander say 'Ft. Bliss is an example of the military trying to be funny.'

El Paso makes Phoenix look like an oasis in the desert.

The first time I ever visited that city on the border I was coming in to say goodbye to Ralexwin before he left for Iraq. With two babies in the back seat I drove over a slight rise in the ground to see a great city crawling across the landscape before me. Houses were topped by houses were topped by more houses all the way up the sides of the hills in every direction. I was shocked and exclaimed out loud "It looks like a foreign country."

Little did I know in that moment how true my statement was, because as you drive over that slight rise what you see is not in fact El Paso, Texas but Juarez, Mexico.

My second impression of the city of the sun was how brown it was. Now, you have to understand I was coming from Phoenix, so for me to take note of the amount of brown is really saying something.

I was not impressed.

But beyond my first images of the city. The statistics are drastically against the area.

The El Paso violent crime rate is 33% greater than the Texas average and 39% greater than the national average.

In 2009, the school district was rated "academically acceptable" by the Texas Education Agency. (Texas ranks their schools as follows: Exemplary (the highest possible ranking), Recognized, Academically Acceptable, and Academically Unacceptable (the lowest possible ranking).

I found one article that stated it best:
By conventional wisdom, El Paso, Texas should be one of the scariest cities in America. In 2007, the city's poverty rate was a shade over 27 percent, more than twice the national average. Median household income was $35,600, well below the national average of $48,000. El Paso is three-quarters Hispanic, and more than a quarter of its residents are foreign-born. Given that it's nearly impossible for low-skilled immigrants to work in the United States legitimately, it's safe to say that a significant percentage of El Paso's foreign-born population is living here illegally.

El Paso also has some of the laxer gun control policies of any non-Texan big city in the country, mostly due to gun-friendly state law. And famously, El Paso sits just over the Rio Grande from one of the most violent cities in the western hemisphere, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, home to a staggering 2,500 homicides in the last 18 months alone. A city of illegal immigrants with easy access to guns, just across the river from a metropolis ripped apart by brutal drug war violence. 
 Granted this article does say that El Paso is a miracle because their crime rates aren't through the roof, but I'm not falling for it. I'm not remotely comfortable with my children living in a city whose closest neighbor has a homicide rate of 2,500. I'm not comfortable with sending my kids to schools that have essentially been given 'D's by their states Board of Education.

Nope. I think I'll stay in Utah with my family where I know the area, I know the people and I know how safe my children are.

And where the scenery is easier on the eyes.

Comments

Mary said…
I am moving up to the Logan area over the summer, I would LOVE to meet you sometime!
Meaghan said…
That's so scary! Who would choose to live in a place like that?!
Jessica Bair said…
You made the right choice. An uncle of mine lived in El Paso for a while when he was in the military. That was 25 years ago. I'm sure it's just gotten worse since then. Utah is the better way to go.
Adrian M said…
El Paso is an All American City with the lowest crime rate in the state of Texas. El Paso is a jewel in the desert and you prefer Phoenix with more per capita kidnappings, murder and violent crime than El Paso just because its greener!?!?

Wow please stay in Utah as your close minded thinking is not welcome here at all.

I am a proud resident of El Paso and can honestly say it is one of the best cities in America. Go ahead and huddle in your Utah cave and demonstrate to your kids that you should judge on appearance alone and not on experience.

I am proud that your husband fights for our freedom overseas and risks his life but you need to really check your close mind at the door and try to experience El Paso and not believe what you read from people that don't live here

Also if you read that article in its entirety it also stated:

El Paso is among the safest big cities in America. For the better part of the last decade, only Honolulu has had a lower violent crime rate (El Paso slipped to third last year, behind New York). Men's Health magazine recently ranked El Paso the second "happiest" city in America, right after Laredo, Texas—another border town, where the Hispanic population is approaching 95 percent.

So get some sense and do your husband and country proud by not judging based on appearances and rumor.
Cannwin said…
Adrian,

As I matter of fact I positively hated living in Phoenix. It holds a lot of wonderful memories for me, but having our motorcycle stolen 4 times, our car broken into 3 times and numerous other crimes committed upon our property made it an unbearable place to live.

I did in fact read the rest of that article, but I'm disinclined to consider the implications of one persons opinion on a city five minutes from Ciudad Juarez.

I have been to El Paso on more than one occasion, none of which changed my impression of the place. Perhaps it IS because I am tired of the brown, dry desert's of the South West. But I also believe it is because I desire something of the small town life for my growing children.

You are right that my opinion would likely change if I moved there. When we moved to South Dakota I was half prepared to find sagebrush floating across our front yard. I was marvelously wrong about that.

But I can't get past the lack of greenery. The mere thought of living more years in such an arid climate seems to sap my very being of it's energy. I crave green like some people crave water.

I'm sorry you think I'm close minded. :)
Adrian M said…
Cannwin,

I appreciate you clarifying your statement. I can completely understand your craving for greenery as I have lived in other parts of the country and can say that is the only downside of living in El Paso.

Although the desert climate does make for some of the most stunning sunsets and sunrises in the US if not in the world.

As far as Juarez is concerned, it is a sad state of affairs that our nations' hunger for drugs has turned the once vibrant city center of Juarez into a war zone. 60% of our nations illegal drug supply comes through the El Paso corridor and has made the cartels lust for money turn the city streets red with blood. The only comfort I hold is that anyone that is killed in the violence is involved somehow in the drug trade.

I grew up here and would regularly visit juarez for the mercados, food and nightlife when I was old enough and it was great. Today it would definitely be a death wish to even step foot near the border entries.

I invite you to see my El Paso when you visit next time and meet some of the great people and taste the best food anywhere. Chico's Tacos, Chope's, Little Diner, Old Mesilla, Stahman Farms, Franklin Mountains State park and many more nearby places of interest.

And I Thank you, your family and your husband as a proud military family serving this great nation of ours.
Cannwin said…
@Adrian M

Since I'm definitely bound to see El Paso again in the next year or so I will be more than happy to see some of your sites. Especially if any of them involve Tamales. One of the greatest travesties of living near the Canadian border is the lack of good Tamales. ::sigh::

I will try my best to keep an open opinion of all things El Paso when I go next.

I have been to that look out up on the top of the mountain (the one you have to get to by tram). Very impressively deserty. I often wonder what people were thinking as they trekked west and came to that area (and anything west through to Arizona) because if it was me and my husband halted our little wagon and said, "Well this seems like a good spot." I'd have some pretty darn choice words for him.

Have you ever read the book "These Is My Words" ? I like it's portrayal of the desert South West during that period of settling. Very rough lands to be sure.

Thank you for hearing me out. :)
Adrian M said…
Tamales are done best by Tamales Lupita in Canutillo just outside of El Paso near the Outlet mall. Best tamales on the planet.
Cannwin said…
Ooh. I'll most definitely keep that in mind :)

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