Let’s Focus on the Bootheel / by Karie Luidens


…That last article from yesterday had a line that jumped out at me. Its author said that California has “the most troops among the three border states.”

But there are four border states.

I assume he meant the three border states where Trump’s administration deployed troops to assist with Border Patrol operations in late 2018, i.e. California, Arizona, and Texas. For whatever reason, none of those 5,000+ troops ended up in New Mexico—even though our state has 180 or so miles of international border. Those miles include three official ports of entry at Santa Teresa, Columbus, and Antelope Wells, but they’re extremely remote: most of the New Mexico–Mexico border is open desert and ranches.

Still, New Mexico has seen its share of migrant crossings and other activity along its southwestern border. It was just a week ago that the Albuquerque Journal reported on a group of 306 Central American asylum seekers turning themselves in to the Border Patrol near Antelope Wells. The article noted that their arrival was part of a pattern going back several months now:

This is the 26th group of more than 100 people to come across the border in the remote area in New Mexico’s Bootheel region since October. Most are Central Americans seeking asylum, and many are from Guatemala.

So let’s forget Washington’s rhetoric and stunts for a minute. Let’s briefly put aside the protests and politics of our state capital up in Santa Fe. I want firsthand accounts of what it’s like on the ground in the so-called Bootheel, the southwestern corner of land that juts down into the Chihuahuan Desert.

How are things these days in New Mexico’s borderlands?