Twelve Republican members of the New Mexico House of Representatives have signed a letter to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, calling on the state to take further steps to ease the burden on communities along the southern border due to an influx of migrants seeking asylum.
State Rep. James Townsend, R-Artesia, who is also the House Minority Leader, along with Roswell state Reps. Phelps Anderson, Candy Spence Ezzell and Greg Nibert, signed the letter, as did eight other House Republicans from Bernalillo, Curry, Eddy, Lea and Sandoval counties.
“While New Mexicans are generous and ready to help those in need, many residents believe their social service systems are already spread too thin as they attempt to help the constantly growing number of immigrants,” the letter states.
Many communities along New Mexico’s 180-mile southern border have been working to respond to illegal border crossings and migrants from a multitude of central American countries presenting themselves at ports of entry in hopes of getting asylum.
The letter suggests Lujan Grisham send the National Guard to the border to assist local and federal officials. In February, Lujan Grisham withdrew most of the National Guard troops deployed by then-Gov. Susana Martinez to deal with the humanitarian situation on the U.S. Mexican border.
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“In our view, sending back the National Guard and creating a state-led crisis response team are helpful steps that can be taken immediately,” the letter states.
Lujan Grisham did leave a small number of National Guard troops on the border in Hidalgo County to help address humanitarian needs.
The letter suggested a crisis management team should also be formed by the state and led by the New Mexico Secretary of Homeland Security. The team would identify the state’s resources and capacity, manage communications between entities and assist communities and counties that are most in need, according to the letter.
“It is clear our communities need considerable assistance as they struggle to provide the needed services the immigrant influx has demanded. In our view, sending back the National Guard and creating a state-led crisis response team are helpful steps that can be taken immediately,” the letter states.
Lujan Grisham’s office responded to the letter from Republicans with a letter of their own dated May 21. In it, she defends the performance of the state government, and accuses federal agencies of aggravating the condition.
She said her office has created a grant application process that allows local governments to be reimbursed for costs associated in dealing with the large number of migrants. Lujan Grisham also rejected both of the measures proposed by House Republicans.
“Costs aside, a military response to a humanitarian matter would be a misguided use of state resources at best, and a cynical ploy to paper over genuine and entrenched humanitarian and logistical issues at worst,” Lujan Grisham stated in the letter.
Lujan Grisham also objected to the idea of creating a response team, saying state agencies have developed comprehensive action plans coordinated with nonprofit groups and provided logistical support within affected communities to meet medical needs.
“The state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has maintained a consistent and vocal presence in affected communities; indeed, the work this agency has conducted would seem to overlap with your request for that agency to lead a crisis response team,” Lujan Grisham stated in the letter.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at email@example.com.