Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Heinrich seeks to boost border security across NM’s Bootheel

Remote, rugged terrain. That is the phrase used over and over to describe New Mexico’s Bootheel by the people who live there, the agents who guard the border and the politicians who say they are trying to figure out how to fill gaps in resources to get that job done. Making those words understood in Washington, D.C., has been no easy task. “We need more focus in Washington, D.C., on these remote areas,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, told me Monday. Heinrich spent the weekend touring the Bootheel with the Border Patrol and visiting with ranchers. Last month, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Heinrich sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske detailing the resources they believe are needed. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., has met with ranchers and has been talking with CBP about their concerns. What it takes to secure a region like Hidalgo County is not what it takes in San Diego, El Paso or the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. There are 86 miles of border and nearly 4,000 square miles of terrain sliced north-south by three separate mountain chains and precious few roads. Apprehensions by Border Patrol in New Mexico rose to 11,216 in fiscal 2015 from 6,910 in fiscal 2011 – a 62 percent increase over five years.  The Lordsburg station is staffed with about 230 agents – about 50 fewer than the more than 280 agents budgeted for last year...more

Praise to Heinrich for not just sending a letter, but actually visiting the area.  In the final analysis, though, Judy Keeler explains her frustrations with previous meetings and the lack of follow through.  Maybe things will be different with Heinrich.  We'll be watching.

Judy Keeler runs two ranches on the border in Hidalgo County. She met with Heinrich this weekend and Pearce in March. She has been vocal about border security issues for years.
When I reached her on the phone Monday, she sounded tired. I asked her if she had – no better word for it – “politician fatigue.”
“I’m meeting’d out,” she said.
“We don’t have any problems with what they are proposing,” she said about the horses and incentives and National Guard. “Those things are important. But personally, I’ve been to so many meetings where promises are made to secure the border and it just doesn’t happen. We’re fatigued of all the promises, and they don’t deliver, and I think I’m not the only one that feels fatigued.”
“There are not enough people to really matter down here,” she said. “The message is the border is secure, and everyone who lives on the border knows it’s not true.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The recently concerned Senator can see the hammer coming....finally!!