N.M. Gov. Declares State of Emergency Along Mexican Border; Notes Recent Property Damage

August 17, 2005

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson recently issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency along the New Mexico-Mexico border, specifically in Doña Ana, Luna, Grant, and Hidalgo counties. The Governor made the announcement following a helicopter and ground tour of the border near Columbus, New Mexico.

“As Governor I have a responsibility to protect our citizens, property, and communities,” said Gov. Richardson. “Recent developments have convinced me this action is necessary – including violence directed at law enforcement, damage to property and livestock, increased evidence of drug smuggling, and an increase in the number of undocumented immigrants.”

Gov. Richardson’s declaration makes $750,000 in state emergency funding immediately available to the affected counties. The Governor pledged an additional $1 million in assistance for the area. The funds will be used to support state and local law enforcement efforts, create and fund a field office for the New Mexico Office of Homeland Security to coordinate assistance to the area, and help build a fence to protect a livestock yard near Columbus, along a favorite path for illegal immigration where a number of livestock have been stolen and killed.

The Governor also called on Mexico to bulldoze the abandoned town of Las Chepas, which is directly over the border from Columbus. Las Chepas is reportedly a notorious staging and resting area for those who smuggle drugs and immigrants into the United States.

“I’m taking these serious steps because of the urgency of the situation and, unfortunately, because of the total inaction and lack of resources from the federal government and Congress,” added the Governor. “We will continue to work with the federal government in an attempt to get their assistance, but something had to be done immediately. I want the people of Doña Ana, Luna, Hidalgo, and Grant counties to know my administration is doing everything it can to protect them.”

The Governor also directed the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to work with the New Mexico Livestock Board to assess the security and safety of livestock in this border region.

Gov. Richardson also received support from the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The Chihuahua Secretary of Industrial Development, Alejandro Cano, said Chihuahua will fully support the Governor in dealing with the situation along the border.

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