One state legislator acted quickly after news that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly authored a draft memo calling to mobilize National Guard troops in several states, including New Mexico, to apprehend those in the country illegally.
State Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, introduced legislation that would keep New Mexico National Guard troops from conducting immigration operations.
“In New Mexico, we will not order our dedicated National Guard members, many of whom would be asked to deport their neighbors and possibly relatives, to participate in ripping families apart and terrorizing our immigrant communities,” McCamley said in a statement. “I hope and trust that our governor would support this legislation that protects New Mexicans from the divisive and hateful policies of the current presidential administration.”
The Catholic Church in the state denounced the idea of using National Guard troops to apprehend those in the country without documents.
Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Friday the Roman Catholic Church in the nation’s most Hispanic state would strongly oppose any effort to use National Guard troops to find and deport immigrants.
He says using the National Guard on a peaceful population would be like declaring a war within the U.S. borders.
When asked about the draft memo Friday, Gov. Susana Martinez said she had not yet read it.
The White House denied that the plan was ever seriously considered.
McCamley represents a district in the Las Cruces area. Earlier this week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted an enforcement action in the area, but it isn’t clear how many people were apprehended.
When asked about the scope of the operations in the Las Cruces area, an ICE spokeswoman said they had nothing to share with NM Political Report.
NM Political Report asked how many people ICE apprehended, if they were specifically targeted after committing crimes (and if so, which crimes) and if anyone who is a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was detained.
Former Gov. Bill Richardson ordered National Guard troops to patrol the border in 2010 after a rancher was killed in Arizona. The troops did not apprehend immigrants.
Then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry sent National Guard troops in that state to the border in 2014 to help the Border Patrol deal with the high number of children and families entering the country after fleeing from from Central America. Martinez did not do the same in New Mexico.