Lujan Grisham calls for removing National Guard from border

A member of the New Mexico National Guard talks to Gov. Susana Martinez in April about the jobs troops are doing on the border to support Border Patrol agents. (Angela Kocherga/Journal)

SANTA FE — U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is calling on Gov. Susana Martinez to rescind the deployment of New Mexico National Guard troops working on the border as part of President Trump’s efforts to fight illegal immigration.

Lujan Grisham — the Democratic candidate to succeed Martinez after the fall election — said the troops should be redeployed to aid in efforts to combat wildfires across the state, not used to help “President Trump’s inhumane immigration policies.”

Her call comes after governors of some states rescinded their deployments amid the national uproar over the separation of migrant children from their parents at the border. On Tuesday, for example, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, ordered a helicopter and four crew members to return after being stationed in New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham said Gov. Martinez should immediately recall New Mexico’s troops, too.

“Using New Mexico personnel and hard-earned taxpayer dollars to support an administration that is tearing children from their parents is sickening,” she said Wednesday in a written statement. “We have a responsibility to stand up to policies that betray our most basic values.”

The Martinez administration, in turn, said it doesn’t have any current requests for National Guard resources to respond to wildfires or disasters and that National Guard troops have been on the border for decades. Removing them would interfere with the work of a drug interdiction task force, according to the administration.

As of April, about 60 National Guard members from New Mexico were serving in a support role on the border, where they have been helping with vehicle maintenance and caring for horses used by the Border Patrol in rugged train, among other tasks. Martinez was expected to deploy up to 150 troops altogether.

She visited the troops in April and said they would help combat human trafficking and the flow of illegal drugs across the border.

President Trump wants as many as 4,000 members of the National Guard on the border until a wall is built.

Martinez has been a firm backer of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy for illegal crossings.

Martinez spokesman Ben Cloutier said the governor also strongly supports the president’s new executive order, signed Wednesday, “to keep immigrant families together and hopes that the decision will be upheld by the courts so that the federal government won’t be forced to return to the failed policy of catch and release.”

Lujan Grisham, who represents the 1st Congressional District covering much of the Albuquerque area, is running for governor this year rather than seek re-election. She faces one of her colleagues in Congress, Republican Steve Pearce, who is also giving up his seat to run for governor.

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