If a governor wishes a border invasion away, does that make her state safer? In the case of New Mexico’s Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, it appears so. Her method of dealing with the plea of her citizens in border counties for more resources is to yank even the existing insufficient resources while proclaiming that no border emergency exists.
Last week, I profiled Hidalgo County, New Mexico, as the hot spot for human and drug trafficking by the Sinaloa cartel. Despite what Gov. Grisham says, the numbers don’t lie. There has been an unconscionable 1,602 percent increase in family units crossing in the El Paso sector for the first three months of this fiscal year relative to this time in FY 2018. The number of unaccompanied alien minors also spiked the most in this sector. While illegal immigration has spiked in most border sectors since last year, no other border sector comes close in terms of increase in trajectory. The El Paso sector includes three border counties in New Mexico and two in west Texas. Most of the latest criminal activity appears to be coming in on the New Mexico side because the state lacks the political will Texas has to deter the cartels and also has limited resources in its border counties.
But in response to a letter written by Hidalgo County officials pleading for more resources to deal with the crime, health concerns, and sanitation problems both from the migrants and the cartel criminals, the governor rudely rebuffed the request and accused the local ranchers of being anti-immigrant stooges of President Trump. Now she has announced she is pulling the National Guard troops away from the border. The guard troops have been there since last April, when the president ordered the deployment in concert with the state governors.
“I’m not going to participate, nor do I think it’s appropriate in any shape or fashion to use the National Guard to attempt to militarize the border where we’re dealing with asylum seekers who their constitutional rights continue to be breached,” Grisham said at a press conference.
Well, the fact that she is at least admitting that there are now record numbers of asylees coming over is an improvement from her denying the crisis altogether. But she is purposely ignoring the fact that the cartels are using the bogus asylees as diversions to bring in all the criminal activity. I’ve got news for Grisham: the cartels have already militarized the border.
An open invitation to the cartels
Maybe Grisham should speak with border agents in the area. She might then understand that thousands of “asylum seekers” don’t just come over on their own. Ramiro Cordero, a local border agent, told the Albuquerque Journal that the cartels are bringing over drugs when agents are tied up with the asylum seekers, especially in areas with no fencing. He explained that this is why we are actually hardly catching any drugs between points of entry any more – because the cartels have our agents strapped down managing the invasion rather than deterring it:
Such seizures have become less common, however, Cordero said, due to the number of agents “busy” with large migrant groups crossing the southern border.
In 2006, he said most migrants were Mexican nationals and could be turned back to their country of origin, but now many are from Central America and have to be detained.
“You can imagine what that does to personnel,” he said. “This is what we’re facing.”
Yet Grisham opposes more manpower and more fencing at the border. As of now, Hidalgo County has either Normandy-style vehicle barriers or barbed-wire fencing only a few feet high that anyone can walk across.
While Sinaloa directs the migrants to overwhelm the agents at the point of entry, guess what is stopping the cartels from bringing in their crime and poison between points of entry. This is the fencing that is in Hidalgo County, in a photo provided by Hidalgo County Manager Tisha Green.
The chicken wire will really stop them! The governor feels no need for a real wall or for the National Guard to help those border agents overwhelmed by the invasion.
County Manager Green, a registered Democrat (no tool of President Trump!), told me that her county is “nowhere close to where we need to be” in terms of resources from the state and the feds. She said she has just four sheriff’s deputies to deal with the increased crime from the cartels, and the state has only provided six troopers from the Department of Public Safety and 12 National Guardsmen.
“We still receive calls from ranchers who don’t feel they have been heard,” said Green. “Nor do they feel like a real solution is in the works by the state. This has been problematic for years, yet it seems to be more pronounced over the last three months. Most ranchers are fearful for several reasons to report incidents that continue to occur; therefore there isn’t an accurate data collection of actual occurrences they are faced with daily!”
Green bemoaned the fact that the cartels know they have absolutely no law enforcement on duty from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. every day.
The cartels have already targeted New Mexico as the new soft spot of our border, and this decision will only further embolden them. Jaeson Jones, retired captain for the Texas Department of Public Safety, who actively monitors cartel movements through a series of informants, was very concerned about the growing trend of migration in New Mexico due to the dynamics of the cartel warfare. “The decision to pull our military off the border in New Mexico will have serious consequences for American citizens,” said Jones. “The cartels had already begun moving more people toward New Mexico to avoid the buildup of military along the Texas/Mexico border and to avoid cartel-on-cartel violence in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Illegal apprehensions crossing into New Mexico have risen by hundreds of percent in the last few months. The cartels will exploit this troop withdrawal, and crime across New Mexico will increase dramatically.”
Indeed, the stepped-up enforcement in Texas has already worked to drive the migration westward. Reuters is reporting that between the extra-military presence in Central Texas, the violence of the Zetas splinter cartels on the Mexican side, and the promise from the governor of the Coahuila state to block all migrants, the latest caravan of 1,700 Central Americans is looking to head west. The New Mexico governor’s decision to pull back the troops is an invitation for them to come through the neighboring Mexican states controlled by Sinaloa and enter the U.S. at Antelope Wells in Hidalgo County.
So, if more manpower or fencing is not needed, what is Grisham’s plan to protect her state?
She has none.
Evidently, Grisham feels that she represents 7.8 billion people of the world but not her own citizens, whom she swore an oath to protect. She believes that the Constitution grants an affirmative right for anyone to demand immigration status, but not for ranchers to be protected from the cartels and a U.S. county to be shielded from an external invasion.
The president can act and fill the void of Grisham’s betrayal
It’s time for the president to take over the New Mexico Guard and do the job the governor refuses to do. Last April, when President Trump called out the Guard to help assist the border patrol, he did so using Title 32 authority, which works with the consent of the governor while keeping the individual state Guard units under the control of the governors. However, with Gov. Grisham refusing to cooperate, President Trump can use Title 10 status to federalize the Guard units and keep them solely under his control at the border (the same way he can deploy them to Afghanistan or elsewhere) if he feels we are facing an invasion or problems that cannot be dealt with by civilian law enforcement.
This law is pursuant to Congress’ enumerated power in Art. I Sec. 8 to “provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions” and “to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States.” The reason why we have the National Guard, referred to as “organized militias” during our Founding, is precisely to repel this sort of invasion from belligerent criminal organizations. While there was much debate among our Founders, and even concern, about the power to use the militia internally to deal with rebellion, nobody doubted its use to repel foreign invasions like those we are experiencing today from the Mexican cartels.
As then-Vice President James Monroe wrote to the chairman of the Senate Military Committee in February 1815, “The power which is thus given to Congress by the people of the United States, to provide for calling forth the militia for the purposes specified in the Constitution, is unconditional.” He explains that it is “a complete power, vested in the National government, extending to all those purposes” because if it were “dependent on the assent of the Executives of the individual States it might be entirely frustrated.”
During his visit today to El Paso, Trump would be wise to call the National Guard into federal service and designate the cartels as terrorist groups. These are all powers he holds unquestionably, and using them would be an effective leverage point in budget negotiations over the border wall.
Hidalgo County, in many ways, reflects America. It has picked the winner of the presidential election in almost every race since 1932. The county officials are of mixed background and work together. They have enough resources to deal with 5,000 peaceful citizens, but they don’t have the resources to protect 5,000 square miles from paramilitary organizations invading their jurisdiction. County Manager Tisha Green told me that “to ensure the safety and welfare of its citizens” they are “hiring two additional officers out of our general fund budget.” But they need more, and they shouldn’t have to pay for a federal and state responsibility dealing with an external challenge to national sovereignty. If the New Mexico governor wants to bury her head in the sand, President Trump should act on their behalf.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.