The governor of New Mexico ordered the state’s National Guard to withdraw a majority of its troops from the southern border, slamming what she called President Donald Trump’s “charade” shortly before his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
“New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement.
Lujan Grisham, who was elected as the first Latina Democratic governor of the state in November, said she rejected the “federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border.”
She also ordered troops from outside of the state, including Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Wisconsin, to return to their home states.
While Lujan Grisham ordered the withdrawal of many of the troops, she also directed troops in Hidalgo County and the surrounding southwestern areas to remain in place. Those troops will 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,” she said.
“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,” she said.
That small group consists of around a dozen guardsmen, according to The Associated Press.
The area has seen a recent influx of large numbers of Mexican families, including a group of 306 migrants on Jan. 25.
Lujan Grisham also directed the state’s Department of Public Safety to deploy temporarily a group of six New Mexico State Police officers to assist local law enforcement in Hidalgo County.
The governor’s announcement challenged Trump’s ongoing claim that there is a “crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border. During Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, Trump repeated the claim and doubled down on his pledge to build a wall along the southern border, 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.”
On Sunday, the administration announced it will deploy about 3,750 additional U.S. forces to the U.S.-Mexico border for 90 days. Those forces will provide support to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the southwest border, according to the Department of Defense, and raise the total of active duty forces supporting CBP there to about 4,350.
The support they will provide includes “mobile surveillance capability” through September and the placement of about 150 miles of concertina wire between ports of entry.
While the number of families with children at the border has reached record highs, crossings at the southern border between ports of entry are significantly lower overall than in the 1980s through the 2000s.
Since the year 2000, apprehensions have fallen from yearly highs of up to 1 million or more migrants, according to Customs and Border Protection data. In the prior fiscal year that ended in September, 396,579 migrants were apprehended in between ports of entry.