February 7, 2019
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham—a Democrat and a former chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus—ordered the state’s National Guard to withdraw a majority of its troops from the southern border on February 5, bashing what she called President Donald Trump’s “charade” shortly before his State of the Union Address.
“I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country,” she said in a public statement.
Grisham added, “We will support our neighbors where the need for assistance is great, and we will offer a helping hand when we can to those vulnerable people who arrive at our border, but New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops.
“We will deploy our men and women in uniform only where there is a need, and where their presence can make a genuine difference in ensuring public safety and an easing of the humanitarian concerns at our southern border.”
In pulling out most of New Mexico’s deployed troops, the governor also directed that the troops from Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Wisconsin should return to their own home states immediately. There were 118 total National Guard troops deployed in New Mexico.
In line with her intention to continue providing aid and assistance, Lujan Grisham made one exception in her troop withdrawal statement: She directed about one dozen troops in Hidalgo County and the surrounding southwestern areas to remain in place. Those troops, she said, 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.”
“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.
The president did not react to the troop pullout by the governor in his SOTU speech on Tuesday night. He did, however, stick to his hard line on immigration, remarking, “walls work and walls save lives.”
Research contact: @DaniellaLSilva