Slick video, sound bite don’t help on the bor­der

Albuquerque Journal - - OPINION -

By all ac­counts, mem­bers of the New Mex­ico Na­tional Guard have been pro­vid­ing Bor­der Pa­trol and Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion of­fi­cials a valu­able ser­vice.

Our guards­men have helped main­tain the Bor­der Pa­trol’s fleet of ve­hi­cles. They have helped CBP of­fi­cers at the Santa Teresa port of en­try with cargo in­spec­tions by un­load­ing trucks. They’ve as­sisted the Bor­der Pa­trol with firearms train­ing. And they have pro­vided air sup­port.

And so Gov. Michelle Lu­jan Gr­isham is telling them to leave. What? Col. Jami­son Her­rera, di­rec­tor of the joint staff for the New Mex­ico Na­tional Guard, said last month that one of his team’s mis­sions was to free up bor­der agents to do their jobs. And there is no ques­tion their jobs have got­ten harder as more groups of sev­eral hun­dred mi­grants reach New Mex­ico’s bor­der with Mex­ico, while traf­fick­ers take ad­van­tage of the dis­trac­tion to try to bring hun­dreds of pounds of drugs into the coun­try. In a too-rare in­stance of govern­ment col­lab­o­ra­tion, the Bor­der Pa­trol noted that “to­gether with units from Arkansas and Ken­tucky, New Mex­ico Na­tional Guard he­li­copter crews have been pa­trolling vast ar­eas of the bor­der from Santa Teresa to Lords­burg. This ex­pands our sit­u­a­tional aware­ness and al­lows us to cover much more ground than we would be able to us­ing our own as­sets.”

So while Lu­jan Gr­isham has been a clear and vo­cal critic of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s bor­der poli­cies, which in­clude a bor­der wall at strate­gic places, it makes no sense for her to leave Bor­der Pa­trol agents and ru­ral New Mex­i­cans pretty much hang­ing just to send a po­lit­i­cal mes­sage.

It’s no co­in­ci­dence her de­ci­sion to kick out the Guard was an­nounced just hours be­fore Trump’s State of the Union ad­dress in which his bor­der pol­icy took cen­ter stage. Or that she then quickly posted on so­cial me­dia an un­used cam­paign video show­ing her crash­ing through walls.

The gover­nor says she doesn’t want a mil­i­ta­rized bor­der. But the 118 Guard mem­bers along New Mex­ico’s bor­der have not been in­volved in de­tain­ing or ar­rest­ing peo­ple. They’ve been in sup­port roles since be­ing de­ployed by for­mer Gov. Su­sana Martinez at Trump’s re­quest last year.

Lu­jan Gr­isham had said she would make her de­ci­sion on keep­ing/re­mov­ing the Guard based on data. Mem­bers of both po­lit­i­cal par­ties say our Bor­der Pa­trol and Bor­der and Cus­toms of­fi­cers are short-handed and lack the re­sources to do their jobs. And the 11 to 15 Guards­men and six ad­di­tional New Mex­ico State Po­lice of­fi­cers the gover­nor plans to leave to help with, in her words, the “hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis” in ar­eas such An­te­lope Wells in Hi­dalgo County, won’t make life much eas­ier for the un­der­staffed bor­der agents, the frus­trated bor­der res­i­dents or the tired, sick and hun­gry bor­der crossers who al­ready have to wait hours to be bused to, then pro­cessed in, Lords­burg.

But like a clever po­lit­i­cal ad on so­cial me­dia, pulling the Guard sounds good.

Un­til you are among those on the ground deal­ing with its af­ter­math.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.