Otero County declares state of emergency to reopen border checkpoints

New Mexico

One New Mexico county is pleading with the governor for help in reopening interior border checkpoints that were closed last month. 

It’s issuing a state of emergency, calling on the governor to deploy the National Guard back to the border and giving her an ultimatum. But does the governor have the power to do anything about it?

Wednesday, Otero County Commissioners unanimously passed a state of emergency declaration, calling on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for help as Border Patrol says migrants continue to move across at unprecedented rates. 

“There’s no hiding there is a crisis on the border. Every agency with boots on the ground, on the border right now will say there is a crisis on our southern border,” Otero County Commission Chair Couy Griffin said. 

The declaration is asking the governor to deploy the National Guard back to the border to reopen checkpoints. 

Last month, Border Patrol announced the temporary closure of all interior checkpoints in the southwest sector, which encompasses New Mexico, so the agents could help out with processing migrants. 

Commission Chairman Couy Griffin is concerned about the safety of his residents, as he says law enforcement has seen a spike in crime and illegal drugs since the closure of the county’s checkpoints, but did not give specific numbers. 

“I believe that it’s a direct result of having our checkpoints shutdown, so the state of emergency is pretty much just a shoutout, a cry for help to get our checkpoints back open,” Griffin said. 

In a statement, a spokesman for the governor’s office said the National Guard does not and would not operate federal checkpoints. They went on to suggest the county should address their concerns with Border Patrol instead, and reach out to the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for assistance. 

The county says it’s also considering taking legal action against the state for not protecting its citizens—something Griffin says the governor promised to do when she took her oath of office. 

Hidalgo County also issued a declaration of emergency earlier this year. 

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