By Tom Joyce [The Center Square contributor] –
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is doing something prominent New Mexico politicians have opposed for years: building more border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Department is waiving 26 federal laws to finish a 20-mile stretch of wall in the Rio Grand Valley; it stopped construction there more than two years ago.
In a six-page filing with the Federal Register, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the decision.
“There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas,” he wrote, citing sections of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
Border Patrol agents working in the Rio Grande Valley Sector apprehended over 245,000 foreign nationals illegally entering the country between points of entry from the start of the fiscal year through early August. Additionally, it apprehended more than 90,000 people in August and September combined, as The Center Square has previously reported.
Although New Mexico politicians have opposed building more border wall, many of them have been silent since President Joe Biden’s administration started building more border wall, including U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, another Democrat.
For example, Heinrich called the U.S.-Mexico border wall “an ugly symbol of hatred” in April 2021.
“President Trump’s wasteful and ineffective border wall was an ugly symbol of hatred, fear, and intolerance. Its construction, often times fast-tracked without consultation from border communities, dealt severe damage to the environment, private land, wildlife corridors, and sacred Native American sites,” Heinrich said in a press release at the time.
His Senate colleague Ben Ray Lujan is also vocally anti-border wall.
Lujan told MSNBC in 2018 that he opposed funding even one penny for the border wall.
“I’m not open to giving a penny to President Trump for this ridiculous wall of his,” he told MSNBC. “I’m not open to supporting President Trump’s wall in one form or another.”
And Lujan Grisham released a video in February 2019 where she ran through walls and said, “Here’s what I think of Trump’s wall.”
The press offices for the U.S. Senators and governor did not respond to repeated efforts over two days to ask whether the Democratic politicians have changed their view of the wall now that a Democratic president was building it.