New Mexico’s governor has pulled back the majority of her state’s National Guard troops stationed at the U.S.-Mexico border in a direct rebuke to President Donald Trump’s claim of a national security crisis.
“New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who assumed office after the midterms, said in a statement Tuesday.
The decision was made a few hours before Trump’s State of the Union address, during which he predictably rattled off misleading or incorrect talking points in support of his desired border wall to combat undocumented immigration. About 118 New Mexico troops were stationed at the border, according to the Associated Press, but that number will be cut to about a dozen after Tuesday’s decision. Lujan Grisham’s Republican predecessor had sent troops to the border at Trump’s behest last April, when he signed a memorandum that urged numerous states to assist over a “drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border.”
Lujan Grisham said the National Guard officials she's leaving in place are on a humanitarian mission to address the “large groups of families, women and children crossing over the border in the remote Antelope Wells area in recent months." The Antelope Wells region of New Mexico is considered the most remote spot of America’s southern border, and it’s where 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin crossed into the United States with her father before she died of septic shock while in Customs and Border Protection custody.
At the time of Trump’s request last spring, at least five states — including two led by Republicans — rejected the call to send National Guard troops to guard the U.S.-Mexico border.
States that do have National Guard troops at the border include Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. And Lujan Grisham urged governors of those states to withdraw their guards from the New Mexico border.
In addition to the National Guard contingent, the Pentagon has active-duty troops at the border at Trump’s request, and announced it would soon send another 3,750, for a total of 4,350, according to the AP.
Cover: New Mexico Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham announces more Cabinet appointments during a news conference in Albuquerque, N.M., on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. She will take office Jan. 1. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)