The governor of New Mexico ordered the majority of the state’s National Guard deployed at its southern border to withdraw, slamming President Trump’s calls for more militarization a “charade of border fear-mongering” ahead of his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
“I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the Southern border,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement, contending that, despite the Trump administration’s alarming rhetoric, the region has “some of the safest communities in the country.”
According to the governor, who was elected in November, 118 National Guard troops were deployed in New Mexico. Most, including Guard members from Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Wisconsin, were ordered to return home.
A small group of about 12 troops, however, were directed to stay in Hidalgo County, where she said they would continue to “assist with the ongoing humanitarian needs of communities there, who have seen large groups of families, women and children crossing over the border in the remote Antelope Wells area in recent months.”
In December, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, a migrant from Guatemala, screened through the the Antelope Wells port of entry before dying of dehydration and shock. Felipe Gomez Alonso, an 8-year-old child migrant, also died in New Mexico after being diagnosed with a cold and a fever.
“I recognize and appreciate the legitimate concerns of residents and officials in southwestern New Mexico, particularly Hidalgo County, who have asked for our assistance, as migrants and asylum-seekers continue to appear at their doorstep,” Lujan Grisham said.
The withdrawal comes just days after Trump, who first ordered Marines and other active-duty personnel to the border last fall, requested 3,750 more troops to tend the U.S.-Mexico border, warning of “Caravans marching through Mexico and toward our Country.” There, troops have been tasked to hang barbed wire and offer logistical support to Customs and Border Protection agents.
The president doubled down on increasing security on the border during Tuesday’s speech, pledging to build a wall and warning of a “tremendous onslaught” of migrants.
“This is a moral issue,” Trump said. “The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans.”
But Lujan Grisham isn’t the only politician representing and governing a southern border state that disputes his claims of a security energy.
In a fact-check of Trump’s State of the Union speech, NPR’s John Burnett and Carrie Kahn wrote: “As for the ‘state of our Southern border,’ mayors along the Southwest border consistently say that their communities are among the safest in the nation. McAllen, Texas, Mayor Jim Darling asserted that his city is the third safest in Texas, according to FBI crime statistics, and seventh safest in the nation. ‘Send social workers to process the asylum-seekers, not soldiers,’ Darling said in a recent call with reporters. Eddie Trevino, Cameron County judge in Brownsville, added, ‘It is a misconception that the border is insecure. There is no Central American invasion. This is a manufactured crisis.’ ”
Additionally, the news outlet reports that crossings at the southern border between ports of entry have also decreased, not escalated, since the ‘80s-2000s.