New Mexico Border Residents Protest Luna County Resolution and Staged Border Wall Rally in Deming
Commentary: Responding to a staged pro-border wall rally organized by prominent state Republicans, residents from New Mexico border counties are speaking out against Trump’s wall and his manufactured crisis.
“The only threat to this county is in the paranoia being generated by the president's unfounded fear-mongering. The threat from border crossers into the bootheel is negligible. More than 95 percent of the 6,000 crossers at Antelope Wells over the past year were Central American families turning themselves in to seek asylum, according to the Border Patrol’s Lordsburg Sector,” said Kim Vacariu, a property and business owner in Rodeo, Hidalgo County. “There is no need for a wall across the bootheel of New Mexico. A wall here would destroy one of America’s most critical wildlife corridors — a natural asset drawing hundreds of researchers and several conferences per year to one of New Mexico’s most remote counties.”
Apprehension rates at the southern border are at historic lows, and the majority of those seeking entry at our southern border are families and children fleeing violence and poverty. Instead of strengthening capacity to process asylum claims, the Trump administration is spurring a humanitarian crisis through vindictive policies: ripping kids from their parents, closing legal channels for individuals to apply for asylum, and piling concertina wire on border walls near or at ports of entry. These policies have forced groups of migrants to more remote areas of the border, like Antelope Wells, to pursue their legal right to request asylum.
“I have lived in a remote area of New Mexico's Bootheel for over nine years and I am against a border wall. In all that time, I have never felt personally threatened by undocumented immigrants,” said Greg Magee, a Rodeo resident. “I also don't believe a wall would have much impact on people intent on crossing the border. But a wall would have serious negative impacts on wildlife in the bootheel, especially in the important habitats and wildlife corridors found in the Peloncillo, Animas, and Alamo Hueco Mountains. The incredible diversity and uniqueness of wildlife in this area is one of the reasons I moved to the Bootheel.”
Hidalgo County is part of New Mexico’s bootheel, a sparsely populated Chihuahuan desert landscape at the intersection of four different ecosystems and a biodiversity hotspot in the United States. The bootheel provides critical habitat for unique species such as Coues Deer, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Mule Deer, Javelina, and Gould’s Turkey. It is an important movement corridor for endangered jaguars and Mexican gray wolves. A border wall would threaten the future viability of those species and damage the ecological integrity of public landscapes such as the Coronado National Forest.
Earlier this year, when Congress repeatedly denied President Trump’s ambitious and unfounded desire to erect a multi-billion taxpayer-funded border wall, the President declared an unjustified national emergency to bypass Congress and raid the budget of the Department of Defense against the will of the American people and border communities. To help deliver Trump’s promise and give false credence to the fabricated national emergency, prominent New Mexico Republicans began a coordinated media campaign to paint the Hidalgo and Luna counties as ground zero for an immigrant “invasion,” a disingenuous effort.
“While there were times when there was some illegal traffic going through our property, it has been at least five years since even a footprint has been seen. I have never felt threatened,” said Lorraine Titus property and business owner in Rodeo. “A wall would be built out of fear and hate, and the relation between Mexico and the United States is not one of fear or hate.”
On Friday, March 8, the Luna County Commission also called a special meeting to pass a resolution supporting the president’s emergency declaration ahead of the staged pro-border wall media event, a political statement in direct contrast with the majority of New Mexico border residents.
“Out in the open country miles from cities, towns, and ports, a large wall or other physical barrier is not necessary. Physical barriers can be climbed over or dug under in those areas, so they are pretty much an obsolete technology that no longer adequately serves its purpose,” said Roger McKasson, a Rodeo resident.
New Mexico border residents not in line with the President’s partisan push for an ecologically destructive and wasteful border wall are speaking out as coordinated Trump campaigners target the bootheel, and will continue to oppose the President’s plans to build a border wall in their backyard.
Southwest Environmental Center (SWEC), based in Las Cruces, N.M., protects and restores wildlife and their habitats through grassroots advocacy and on-the-ground restoration projects.
New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fe (NM CAFe) is a faith-based non-profit organization working to build and develop leaders across Southern NM who aspire to create a culture that empowers everyday New Mexicans to act on their on behalf towards a better quality of life.