NM Governor Supports More Troops at Border
ALBUQUERQUE – New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says she will support President Donald Trump's plan to send National Guard troops to the state's southern border to combat illegal immigration.
Since the surprise announcement on Wednesday, the president has said he wants 2,000 to 4,000 troops deployed immediately to prevent migrants from crossing into the U.S. illegally. But Peter Simonson, executive director with the ACLU of New Mexico, warns that sending military personnel to the border could result in widespread human-rights violations and tragedy.
"You're asking an armed force to respond to families coming across the border, trying to make a better life for themselves, and the notion that we would confront them with military personnel is a colossal injustice," says Simonson.
The ACLU runs a Regional Center for Border Rights that moved just last year from Las Cruces to El Paso, Texas.
A spokesperson for the governor said she appreciates the administration's efforts to bring states to the table as a step to better secure the border.
Border crossings were at historic lows until last month, but President Trump says more guards are needed as crossings typically increase in the spring. Simonson calls the notion that the U.S. doesn't have adequate border protection a myth.
"We have so many border personnel in that region of the country that literally, if you were to line them up and evenly space them across the length of our southwest border, they would be within eye-sight of each other," he says.
The Pentagon says the National Guard will support law-enforcement activities already performed by agents assigned to the border, and provide "aviation, engineering, surveillance, communications, vehicle maintenance and logistical support."
President Trump's decision to deploy troops to the border came after Fox News reported that a migrant caravan was headed toward the U.S. border through Mexico.
Simonson is convinced the caravan has helped create a manufactured crisis.
"The person who occupies the highest office in the land is making policy on the basis of his impulses in response to Fox News programming,” he says. “That's not the way to run a country; it's certainly not the way to make life-and-death decisions about whether it's immigrants or our own citizens."
Latest news reports say the caravan of an estimated 1,500 migrants has been disbanding as a result of the negative publicity.