New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) on Tuesday evening ordered a withdrawal of the majority of the state’s National Guard troops assigned to the U.S.-Mexico border, just before President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address.
“New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops,” Grisham said in a statement.
“I recognize and appreciate the legitimate concerns of residents and officials in southwestern New Mexico, particularly Hidalgo County, who have asked for our assistance, as migrants and asylum-seekers continue to appear at their doorstep,” she added.
Trump spent the better part of his State of the Union on Tuesday calling the situation at the border “an urgent national crisis” — a characterization that has been disputed by members of his own administration.
Last week, the Pentagon told Congress that it does not see the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border as a national emergency or threat to U.S. security.
Still, on Sunday, the Pentagon announced the deployment of an additional 3,750 troops to the border to put up barbed wire barriers and to help Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in monitoring border crossings. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the troops will be deployed over the next month — bringing the total number of active duty forces at the border to 4,350.
Trump’s State of the Union address was delayed due to the five-week partial government shutdown, during which he called on Congress to give him $5.7 billion in border wall funding and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to bring up any legislation that the president wouldn’t pass.
The current continuing resolution expires next Friday at midnight — which means the president and Congress need to come up with a budgeting solution to prevent another government shutdown before then. In an interview on CBS This Morning on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said that he can’t guarantee that there won’t be another government shutdown, saying that “Congress needs to do their job.”
If he can’t strike a deal with Congress, Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency to build the border wall that he originally promised would be paid for by Mexico. On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that McConnell warned Trump that if he does so, Republican lawmakers in Congress would vote to overrule him.
Meanwhile, Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” plan is forcing asylum-seekers back to Mexico, where they must wait until their cases are decided. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, the policy has led to chaos at the border, as there isn’t proper infrastructure to track who is arriving, let alone meet their basic needs in terms of food, housing, or health care.
Guatemalan immigrant children Felipe Gomez Alonzo and Jakelin Caal Maquin died in U.S. custody in New Mexico. During Trump’s address on Tuesday, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) wore pins with a photo of Caal, who was only 7 years old when she died.