New Mexico Governor Orders Withdrawal of National Guard Troops at Border, Rejecting Trump's 'National Security Crisis' Claims

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico ordered the state's National Guard to withdraw the majority of its troops stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border on Tuesday night,rejecting the Trump administration's claims of an "overwhelming national security crisis."

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, announced the decision in the lead-up to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in which the U.S. leader warned of a "tremendous onslaught" of asylum seekers arriving at the southern border and once again vowed to see his long-promised border wall built.

In a statement, Lujan Grisham, who took office last month after representing New Mexico in the U.S. House of Representatives for six year, said she rejected the "federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country."

"New Mexico will not take part in the president's charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops," she said.

The governor said that troops stationed in Hidalgo County and surrounding southwestern New Mexico counties would remain in place to help with the ongoing humanitarian needs of communities there, which the governor's office said had seen large groups of families, women and children crossing the border in recent months.

While Lujan Grisham said she did not believe there was a "national security crisis" at the border, she said she did "recognize and appreciate the legitimate concerns of residents and officials in southwestern New Mexico, particularly Hidalgo County, who have asked for our assistance, as migrants and asylum-seekers continue to appear at their doorstep."

"We will deploy our men and women in uniform only where there is a need, and where their presence can make a genuine difference in ensuring public safety and an easing of the humanitarian concerns at our southern border," the New Mexico governor said.

In withdrawing most of New Mexico's deployed troops, Lujan Grisham also directed troops from Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Wisconsin to return to their home states immediately.

According to her office, there were a total of 118 National Guard troops deployed in New Mexico as part of Trump's border mission ordered last April. A spokesperson for the governor told The Washington Post that 11 to 15 troops would remain in the southwestern part of the state.

The governor also directed the Department of Public Safety to temporarily deploy a group of six New Mexico State Police officers to assist in the day-to-day operations of local law enforcement in Hidalgo County, in response to a request from the county manager there.

Lujan Grisham's office said leadership at the Department of Public Safety would continue to evaluate whether further "supplemental assistance" was needed.

The New Mexico governor's decision to pull National Guard troops from the southern border came on the heels of the Trump administration's decision to deploy an additional 3,750 troops to the southern border as the U.S. leader continues to battle with Congress Democrats over funding for his wall.

The president has demanded $5.7 billion in funding for the construction of his wall, which Democrats have refused to greenlight. Members of Congress from both parties face a looming deadline to find a resolution, with a funding measure to keep the government running, as border security talks continue, set to expire on February 15.

If a resolution is not reached, Trump has warned that the country could be plunged into yet another government shutdown, weeks after the record-breaking 35-day federal closures that saw around 800,000 government workers furloughed or working without pay for more than a month.

Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham, a New Mexico Democrat, speaks at a news conference on February 16, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Now governor of New Mexico, Lujan Grisham has ordered the withdrawal of the majority of National Guard troops deployed to the southern border. Alex Wong/Getty