EL PASO, Texas - While much of the attention has been focused on Arizona, California, and Texas, locals in New Mexico are now expressing their concerns after seeing an uptick in illegal crossings from the southern border.
Several lawmakers toured the area on April 12. It was a busy day and I got to ride along with them as they toured both New Mexico and Texas. In fact, this was the first trip to the border for many of them.
Locals say they hope these representatives will share their experiences in Washington and with their constituents.
Johnson is a fourth generation cattle farmer. His ranch is along the border for about eight miles. In January, he says construction of the wall stopped. Now he's left with piles of materials and gaps.
"We are the easiest gap in the country right now.. with the lack of wall…this is a funneling point right into our ranch. My house is just three miles from here so all this traffic's being funneled right into our property."
Johnson says most of the crossings on his land are made by single adult men, drug smugglers, and human traffickers, not families seeking asylum.
Several lawmakers came out to see the problem firsthand.
"Every owner of a ranch in New Mexico and their employees carry firearms to protect themselves, because of the crime. Every day they see spotters on the hills that they know are probably pointing a gun at them," said House committee on oversight and reform ranking member Rep. James Comer of Kentucky.
New Mexico Rep. Yvette Herrell said, "We can see this for ourselves, so people can understand, other members of Congress can understand what we're seeing. But it's also important for the people of New Mexico and the southern border communities to understand that, you know what we can hear you."
In the evening, lawmakers went to El Paso to meet with Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council. They met at a spot that made national headlines earlier this month when smugglers tossed two little girls over a 14 foot wall as agents ran to their rescue.
Judd says it's important to share their everyday reality of the border.
"If you don't get people coming down here to take a real hard look at what's taking place on the border, you're never going to fix the problem, and that's why I'm grateful that they're coming down."
March 2021 was one of the busiest months for agents so far. Authorities took over 172,000 migrants into custody. That's about five times as many compared to March 2020.
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