SANTA FE, NM (AP) — As migrants flooded New Mexico’s towns and shelters in 2019, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham bused several dozen of them from border communities to Denver, where Christian communities volunteered to offer shelter and assistance.
Fast forward to 2022, neither Lujan Grisham nor Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti talks much, if at all, about moving migrants off the border.
Lujan Grisham and Ronchetti this week declined to answer questions about whether and under what circumstances they would approve a new program to resettle migrants from the New Mexico border region to other states.
Ronchetti, a former TV weatherman, has fought on promises to crack down on cross-border migrant smuggling and illegal drug smuggling by stationing soldiers and police at the state border with Mexico.
He has also criticized some recently enacted laws granting public benefits to migrants.
Still, that approach is a far cry from the controversial moves by Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida to send thousands of Southern migrants to Democrat-led states and cities while campaigning for re-election.
“The governors of Texas, Arizona and Florida are doing everything they can to bring awareness to the border crisis created by Joe Biden and exacerbated by politicians like Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham,” Ronchetti spokesman Ryan Sabel said in an emailed statement.
Ronchetti, who lost a US Senate race in 2020, campaigned alongside DeSantis at an August rally in Carlsbad.
Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Maddy Hayden called Republicans’ migrant transfers a distraction.
“Governor DeSantis is taking this opportunity to distract Americans from the fact that his far-right colleagues are trying to pass a nationwide ban on abortion, a position he supports,” Hayden said in a statement Tuesday.
In 2019, New Mexico struggled to accommodate the large number of Central American migrants as immigration officials left asylum-seekers in small border communities.
The then office of the governor paid for the transportation of several dozen immigrants to Colorado. The state also sued federal immigration officials, claiming they failed to meet their obligations. The case was dismissed by a federal judge.
In August of this year alone, US authorities detained around 29,000 migrants along the US southern border near El Paso and the 180-mile New Mexico-Mexico border in connection with high levels of immigration from Venezuela.