(Gray News) – The governor of New Mexico has ordered the withdrawal of most of her state’s National Guard troops stationed at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered the troops removed on Tuesday night, shortly before President Donald Trump gave his State of the Union address.
In that speech, Trump described a purported security crisis at the border. Lujan Grisham challenged that notion by withdrawing the troops.
“New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.
The governor 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.”
Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who served six years in the U.S. House of Representatives and took office as governor last month, said, “When I was in Congress I disagreed with the president’s rhetoric on immigration. I was very concerned about his efforts to militarize the border. I felt like he was manipulating the Southwestern states.”
Lujan Grisham’s Republican predecessor, former Gov. Susana Martinez, deployed National Guard troops to the border last April at Trump’s suggestion. A total of 118 remained until Lujan Grisham ordered the withdrawal.
The governor also ordered 25 troops from Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Wisconsin to withdraw from the New Mexico border.
Lujan Grisham, however, said she’ll leave around a dozen guardsmen in the southwestern corner of New Mexico to help with humanitarian needs. She also ordered state police to assist local law enforcement.
“I 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,” she said.
On Sunday, the Pentagon announced it would send 3,750 more troops to the southern border, where they’ll help install wire barriers and monitor crossings, bringing the number of active-duty troops there to around 6,000, according to NPR.