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Democratic lawmakers urge governor to oppose border troops

LAS CRUCES – Democratic lawmakers from border communities called on Gov. Susana Martinez to stop the “militarization”of New Mexico’s border region by reconsidering her decision to go along with President Trump’s plan to deploy National Guard troops.

Reps. Doreen Gallegos, Bill McCamley, Angelica Rubio, Nathan Small, Rudy Martinez, Bill Gomez and Joanne Ferrary held a joint news conference in Las Cruces and questioned the need for sending troops to the New Mexico border.

“People are not just running across the border. There is a wall. There is security,” said Rep. Gallegos of Las Cruces. “We’re not seeing there’s a spike in the problem. There’s a spike in the rhetoric.”

Rep. McCamley of Mesilla Park and several other state lawmakers said they are concerned the National Guard might be needed elsewhere in New Mexico.

“We’re going into forest fire season. A big percentage of the state is in drought right now, and if National Guard folks are continuously rotated down to the border for a problem that doesn’t exist, are they going to be available for a real problem when it happens?” McCamley asked.

Rep. Ferrary of Las Cruces said she is worried about “the National Guard’s men and women being deployed to the border where we don’t have a crisis. My nephew is with the National Guard and he would have to leave his job and his family for who knows how long.”

Rep. Gomez’s district includes the thriving border region that benefits from trade with Mexico. He said deploying troops portrays the border as a dangerous region.

“This is the kind of stuff that keeps business from coming to New Mexico, and we’ve got to fight that. Economic development down there is huge,” said Gomez, of La Mesa.

He and other lawmakers urged New Mexicans to call the Governor’s Office and speak out against President Trump’s deployment plan.

Gov. Martinez supports using the National Guard to help Border Patrol agents stop illegal crossings and drug trafficking. The Republican governor was on a call Thursday with other border governors and federal officials to discuss efforts to bolster border security and determine how many troops can be deployed.

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