SANTA FE – New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she saw no immediate evidence Friday at the U.S. border with Mexico of the security crisis described by President Donald Trump, as she pressed U.S. officials there for more information about conditions inside a short-term detention facility for immigrants.
Lujan Grisham visited the border community of Sunland Park and the Santa Teresa port of entry on a fact-finding mission before making further decisions about the ongoing deployment of New Mexico National Guard troops to reinforce border security.
She was briefed by the National Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but she asked for more extensive information, said governor’s office spokesman Tripp Stelnicki.
“I wanted to see the situation for myself,” said Lujan Grisham, relaying her impressions through a series of Twitter posts. “I still have questions, and I’m going to work through the data I’ve requested, so the decisions we make about the issues at our border are evidence-based, not political.”
The governor repeatedly has expressed skepticism about Trump’s portrayal of immigration and border security situations amid the standoff over federal funding for a border wall.
That’s a sharp shift in outlook from the preceding governor of New Mexico, Republican Susana Martinez, who deployed nearly 200 troops to the border in April and this week defended Trump’s call for a border wall as part of a deal to end the partial government shutdown.
Lujan Grisham “needs to see more data, she needs to see more context, before making any future decisions about the National Guard,” Stelnicki said. “It’s about whether that mission is adequately serving the public safety of New Mexicans and the country, as well as the people who are fleeing gang violence, these women and children.”
Lujan Grisham was accompanied by recently appointed state Cabinet secretaries for health and emergency management, as well as Lt. Gov. Howie Morales.
Lujan Grisham describes Trump’s idea for a wall as outdated and ineffectual and has called on the president to end the shutdown. She also has emphasized humanitarian concerns about the treatment of foreign women and children seeking asylum in the U.S., invoking the recent deaths in New Mexico of Guatemalan immigrant children Felipe Gomez Alonzo and Jakelin Caal while in U.S. custody.
As a representative in Congress last year, Lujan Grisham used her position as chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to lambast the Trump administration’s abandoned policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the border.