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Border Patrol closes highway checkpoints in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Border Patrol closed all five highway checkpoints in New Mexico on Saturday and reassigned agents to help with the influx of migrant families and unaccompanied children.

“To process and ensure appropriate care for those in custody, resources, including personnel, have been diverted from other border security priorities,” a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said in a statement.

Border Patrol agents have been coping with a surge in families crossing in the El Paso sector, which includes all of New Mexico. In the past month in the El Paso and Sunland Park area, agents have been taking on average 600 people a day into custody.

In order to have the manpower to transport and process the large number of migrants, the checkpoints have been temporarily shut down.

A total of six checkpoints are closed, including all five in New Mexico, and one in West Texas.

Border Patrol operates checkpoints within 100 miles of the border to  detect undocumented immigrants and drugs.  Agents also find stolen vehicles and wanted felons, according to Border Patrol.

Nationwide, Border Patrol Agents at highway checkpoints this past year seized more than 41,863 pounds of cocaine, 2,717 pounds of heroin, 405 pound of meth and more than 6,360 pounds of Fentanyl, according to data from CBP for fiscal year 2018.

The agency has said that highway checkpoints are “integral” to Border Patrol’s security mission.

The checkpoints in New Mexico are located on Interstate 10, Interstate 25, NM 185, a route to Hatch and two checkpoints near Alamogordo on Highway 54 and 70. The checkpoint shut down in west Texas, US 62/180, is  a popular route to Carlsbad.

“This is intended as a temporary measure,” Border Patrol said.