A Republican lawmaker running for governor is calling for a deployment of National Guard troops to New Mexico’s southern border to stem what she says is a tide of undocumented immigrants and drugs flowing into the state.
In a news release issued by her campaign Tuesday, Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, said if elected in November 2022, she would send troops to the border on her first day in office.
“Our neighboring states, Texas and Arizona, are doing their best to secure the border while the governor is just hook, line and sinker with President [Joe] Biden’s agenda — which is open border,” Dow said in a phone interview, referring to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Her call for troops came the same day Republican governors of 26 states sent a letter to Biden asking for a meeting to discuss ways to strengthen border enforcement policies.
The Republican Party of New Mexico also issued a news release Tuesday, calling on Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, to take action.
Dow’s comments come about a month after a Pew Research Center report said U.S. Border Patrol agents marked a 21-year high rate of encounters with migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border in July — nearly 200,000.
The report added that figure far surpasses the most recent wave of migration in May 2019.
In recent weeks, leaders of states that don’t border Mexico — including Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin — have announced plans to deploy their National Guard troops or law enforcement personnel to Republican-led states along the southern border.
It’s unclear what jurisdiction, if any, the National Guard would have when it comes to interacting with migrants.
Joseph Vigil, a spokesman for the New Mexico National Guard, wrote in an email Tuesday there are no soldiers or airmen from the guard stationed along the border.
Dow said she would “have those troops take directives from the Border Patrol agents” if they were deployed.
A businesswoman and consultant to for-profit and community-based early childhood providers, Dow is one of six Republicans who have declared their intent to run for governor in the November 2022 election.
She said she believes border issues — including the illegal transport of drugs into the United States — will be “at the top of the list” of campaign issues for those gubernatorial candidates.
In an email, Nora Meyers Sackett, spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham, said the state Guard’s priority now is helping with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The New Mexico National Guard has been tireless in their efforts to support and preserve New Mexicans’ public health, putting in countless hours assisting New Mexicans during the crisis of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which, despite state Republicans’ behavior suggesting otherwise, is not yet over,” she wrote.