Two more New Mexico counties have declared their opposition to taking in migrants in a growing revolt against federal authorities dropping off a surge in Central American families in the state’s rural, southern communities.
The record influx of asylum seekers has overwhelmed border detention facilities and shelters, forcing U.S. immigration authorities to bus migrants to nearby cities and even fly them to California.
Las Cruces, New Mexico, has received more than 6,000 migrants since April 12. Deming, population 14,183, gets 300 to 500 a day, according to City Administrator Aaron Sera.
Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has dismissed President Donald Trump’s claims of a border security crisis and advocated a humanitarian response. She is in Washington seeking federal funds to reimburse cities that give support.
But some New Mexico counties say they want nothing to do with sheltering migrants, with one official saying the governor’s approach may worsen the border crisis.
Sierra County, population 11,116, was one of two Republican-controlled New Mexico counties to pass resolutions Tuesday evening opposing the relocation of migrants to their communities.
Sierra County also called on Trump to close the border to immigration to end the crisis.
“We have to take care of our veterans, our seniors, our residents, first and foremost,” said County Manager Bruce Swingle. “We’re a very impoverished county.”
Sierra County has a median annual household income of $29,690 and a 21 percent poverty rate, according to Data USA.
To the east, Lincoln County passed a resolution that it was not prepared to spend taxpayer dollars on housing “illegal immigrants,” said Commissioner Dallas Draper.
“This is a small county. We have 19,000 people, and housing right now is already an issue for the people who are here,” Draper said.
The moves followed a similar May 2 resolution by neighboring Otero County.
County Commission Chairman Couy Griffin said sheltering migrants sent the wrong message to other Central Americans thinking of leaving their homes and would deepen the border crisis.
“If you begin to feed pigeons in the parking lot, pretty soon you have every pigeon in town,” Griffin said.
Aid not encouraging
Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said there was no evidence humanitarian aid encouraged people to leave their homes.
“They are moving because they have no other choice and it’s frankly un-American to suggest we close our doors to people in need,” he said.