Otero County Declares State of Emergency, Demands National Guard Re-Open Border Checkpoints

Mary Margaret Olohan | Reporter

New Mexico’s Otero County declared a state of emergency Wednesday, demanding that the governor deploy the National Guard to re-open Customs and Border Protection (CBP) checkpoints.

The resolution was passed unanimously and emphasized the need for checkpoints, which were closed in March, to stop the passage of drugs and to halt illegal crossings at the border. The checkpoints were closed temporarily “to assist with the processing of these aliens,” a CBP statement read, according to the Alamogordo Daily News.

“If this demand is not met by the State of New Mexico in one week’s time, the County of Otero will take action itself to provide security and safety and well-being for the people in this county,” said Otero County Commission Chairman Couy Griffin to the Alamogordo Daily News. (RELATED: 2019 On Track To Experience Highest Level of Illegal Immigration In A Decade)

“Otero County will also consider litigation in regards to the State of New Mexico failing to follow its constitutional duties towards the people of Otero County,” Griffin added.

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, return to Mexico after being hit by tear gas by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials after attempting to illegally cross the border wall into the United States in Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif.

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, return to Mexico after being hit by tear gas by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials after attempting to illegally cross the border wall into the United States in Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif.

However, Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office sent out a statement saying that “the National Guard does not and would not operate federal checkpoints,” according to the Alamogordo Daily News.

“If Otero County officials are unhappy that a federal checkpoint has been un-manned, so to speak, their concerns would have the best chance of being addressed if registered with the federal agency that made the decision to shift that personnel elsewhere,” said spokesman Tripp Stelnicki on behalf of the governor‘s office.

“At the same time, Otero County is absolutely free to reach out to the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for whatever assistance they feel they need, which as of today had not occurred.”

Otero County’s state of emergency follows Yuma, Arizona’s state of emergency declaration on Tuesday, in which Mayor Doug Nicholls said that the mass migration of immigrants was causing an “imminent threat” to the city of Yuma, according to the AZ Central.

This move came after Nicholls allowed the Border Patrol to release migrants into the community in March, but received word Tuesday that shelters for the migrants were at capacity even as the Border Patrol alerted him that they were going to release more migrants that very day, AZ Central reports.

“Today is a day that we had talked about three weeks ago, hoping never to get to,” Nicholls said Tuesday with a “heavy heart” at a news conference according to the AZ Central.

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