Governor visits National Guard troops sent to border
April 26, 2018 06:13 PM
SANTA TERESA, N.M. – Gov. Susana Martinez got a firsthand look Thursday at how dozens of New Mexico National Guard troops will help secure the border, which she ordered.
Martinez said about 60 troops have already arrived here on the border. She expects that number will increase to about 150.
When Martinez toured the U.S. Border Patrol facility in Santa Teresa, it was her first visit since activating the Guard at President Donald Trump's request. She called the situation on the border a crisis.
"We do not want illegal trafficking of drugs and sex trafficking that takes place and then comes through the border and then impacts the cities of the northern parts of New Mexico as they travel further north," the governor said.
Martinez said the 150 troops won't be enforcing federal laws. Instead, they act in a support role to free up Border Patrol agents who will. New Mexico National Guard Brig. Gen. Thomas Bump that means tasks like maintenance, viewing cameras, and communications.
More National Guard troops are undergoing training and background checks to bring the number on the border up to 150. As for how long the National Guard will remain at the border, that's not clear.
"They'll be in constant communication with the White House to see what needs to happen. Do we need to increase the number, decrease the number or when it ends?" Martinez said.
Earlier this month, the Albuquerque Police Department asked Martinez to exempt its 71 officers who serve in the National Guard, citing low staffing and the potential public safety risk of removing officers from the streets.
"The decision was made the minute that we accepted and agreed that we were going to send National Guard men and women down here, that we were not going to tap any of the law enforcement agencies anywhere in the state – not just Albuquerque," Martinez said.
Bump says no National Guard members are being forced to go at this point.
"We're asking for volunteers," he said. "We do understand that the governor had a priority with no police officers and that kind of thing. So if somebody wants to volunteer to come down and support us on this mission we’ll gladly take them."
During a news briefing with reporters, Bump was asked if he thinks the National Guard will make a difference in helping to secure the border.
"I think anytime you can free up an agent to get them out of the line, it's probably beneficial to them accomplishing their mission," he said. "We're here in a support role. They're the lead and that’s the way we're going to approach it."
Updated: April 26, 2018 06:13 PM
Created: April 26, 2018 03:52 PM
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