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Herrell invites vice president to New Mexico

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U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-NM, addresses a crowd Jan. 31, 2020 at the Republican Party of Chaves County’s pre-primary convention in Roswell. Herrell, whose 2nd Congressional District includes New Mexico’s border with Mexico, last week sent a letter to Vice President Kamala Harris inviting her to New Mexico to view conditions on the southern border. (File Photo)

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U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-NM, recently invited Vice President Kamala Harris to New Mexico to get a glimpse, Herrell said, of how illegal immigration is impacting communities on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Herrell, who represents New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes 179.5 miles of U.S. border with Mexico, extended the invitation to Harris in a letter dated May 24.

“I invite you to join me at the southern border of New Mexico to see the crisis firsthand and how it is affecting Americans in my district who continue to fear violence and property damage along the border,” Herrell stated in the letter.

Herrell has taken four trips to the border with other members of Congress since taking office in January.

In her letter, Herrell also asks that she and a bipartisan group of lawmakers from districts along the southern border accompany Harris on her upcoming diplomatic trips to Mexico and Guatemala, scheduled for June 7 and 8.

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“This crisis can only be solved with bipartisan input and perspective from those who represent areas along the southern border,” Herrell said.

Jordan Heverly, a spokesperson for Herrell’s office, said Tuesday Herrell has not received a response from Harris. An email sent to the vice president’s office asking if she intended to accept Herrell’s request was not returned by press time Thursday.

Migrant crossings at the southern border have climbed in the first months of 2021. Numbers released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection last month showed that in April agents encountered a total of 178,622 people from South American countries attempting to cross the border into the U.S. Migrant crossings into the U.S. have been rising steadily since April 2020.

Harris in March was placed in charge of the Biden administration’s diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of increased migration — such as violence, natural disasters and food insecurity — through economic development.

Though President Joe Biden and members of his administration have urged migrants not to enter the U.S. illegally, Herrell, in her letter, accused Biden of signaling “to those across the world that America’s borders are effectively open, and that key incentives exist that will continue fueling this crisis.”

Herrell criticized the administration’s efforts to reduce migration through economic aid as ineffective, instead calling on the administration to focus on deterring illegal immigration “to ensure consequences for those who break our laws or exploit our asylum system.”

She added that would include additional border personnel, resuming construction of a physical barrier along the southern border and what she calls “a consequence delivery system” that punishes and deports migrants who enter the country illegally.

Herrell in the letter urged the Biden administration to adopt policies that force those seeking asylum in the U.S. to remain in Mexico until their cases are heard.

A fierce critic of Biden administration immigration policy, Herrell has introduced legislation that would require a comprehensive background check be performed on those apprehended in the U.S. after entering the country illegally.

The legislation, according to a press release, would block the release of any individual before their case is heard if such a background check cannot be performed or if they have any criminal convictions or connections to gangs, drug cartels or terrorist organizations.

In April, Herrell requested that New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham deploy National Guard troops to the border to deal with a spike in crossings. Lujan Grisham refused the request.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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