New Mexico withdraws National Guard from border

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham pulled the majority of her state’s National Guard troops off the southern border a few hours before President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address in which he renewed his call for a wall separating the U.S. from Mexico.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

Grisham, a Democrat, directed that troops in Hidalgo County and surrounding southwestern New Mexico counties remain in place to assist with the ongoing humanitarian needs of communities there.

A statement from Grisham said troops have seen large groups of families, women and children crossing over the border in the remote Antelope Wells area in recent months.

Trump has falsely claimed that immigrants pose a security threat to the nation, and last week the Pentagon announced that it would deploy 3,750 additional troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. immigration policy has been a touchstone for political debate for decades but Trump has inflated the situation for political advantage, regardless of lower numbers of people seeking entry to America.

Immigrants strengthen American resources in science and the humanities. Examples abound of American-immigrant Nobel laureates, renowned inventors, business leaders, and scientists who have made immeasurable contributions to our prosperity.

Americans have some sympathy for those who entered the country illegally and many are reluctant to punish or deport immigrants who are working hard and otherwise abiding by the nation’s laws.

The Trump administration has consistently sought to exaggerate any security threat posed by refugees.

An intelligence assessment showing refugees do not present a significant threat to the U.S. was dismissed by hard-liners in the administration, who issued their own report, which inflates risks and misstates the evidence, according to several former government officials and rights groups.

At a meeting in September 2017 with senior officials discussing refugee admissions, the National Counterterrorism Center presented a report that analyzed the possible risks from refugees but the attorney general disagreed with its conclusions.

Under the governor’s direction, state National Guard leadership will immediately assess whether an augmented presence in the southwestern part of the state is needed.

“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. However, 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,” Grisham said.

“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,” Grisham said.

“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,” Grisham said.

Grisham, in withdrawing most of New Mexico’s deployed troops, also directed that the troops from Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Wisconsin return to their home states immediately.

There were 118 total National Guard troops deployed in New Mexico.

The governor also directed the Department of Public Safety to temporarily deploy an initial group of six New Mexico State Police officers to assist the day-to-day operations of local law enforcement in Hidalgo County, as has been requested by the county manager there.

Leadership at the Department of Public Safety will assess whether further supplemental assistance is needed.

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