ALBUQUERQUE — Gov. Susana Martinez supports the federal government’s decision to separate children from parents who cross the border illegally, she said in an interview during a visit to the border.
Martinez, who was in Santa Teresa for the opening of a manufacturing plant Monday, said she backs the Trump administration’s zero tolerance effort, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
The Republican is a staunch supporter of tougher border enforcement.
People shouldn’t be allowed to break the law “simply because they have children,” Martinez said.
“As a prosecutor for 25 years, if your parent went out and robbed a store with a gun and stole money because they needed to buy drugs, we arrested that individual and that individual went to jail, and arrangements were made for that child, the best arrangements,” Martinez said.
Federal officials approved separating parents from children earlier this year as part of a pilot program in the El Paso Border Patrol sector, which includes all of New Mexico.
The number of arrests of people crossing the border illegally has increased.
May marked the third consecutive month that Border Patrol agents arrested more than 50,000 people illegally crossing the Mexican border. Many were asylum-seekers from Central America.
Taking children away from parents can cause “irreparable harm,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a statement opposing the policy.
Families can be reunited once parents post bail as they await immigration proceedings, Martinez said.
Immigrant parents who do not have access to lawyers who can request bail, or the funds to cover the cost, can prevent their families from being separated by simply not crossing the border illegally, she said.