The Last Populated Place on the Highway / by Karie Luidens

Columbus, NM.JPG

After just over a hundred miles speeding west on NM-9, I planned to turn south onto NM-81.

I couldn’t have missed it if I tried. Scrub, ranch, scrub, ranch—then suddenly, right at the junction, there were signs of human life.

Relatively speaking. It was so eerily empty and quiet, I couldn’t tell if anyone still lived in the handful of broken-down structures labeled Hachita. I looked it up later, when I had cell service again. Here’s what I found:

Bootheel residents in southwestern NM deal with surge of migrants

Blake Gumprecht, Las Cruces Sun-News
Published 11:16 a.m. MT Jan. 29, 2019

HACHITA - If you live in this tiny town at the entrance to New Mexico’s Bootheel region, population 34 (or 70, depending on the source), it’s easy to have a siege mentality. You have dogs. You erect a fence around your property.

You call the Border Patrol when you hear people rustling around in the abandoned double-wide next door.

This unincorporated community is the last populated place on the highway to the Antelope Wells port of entry, which has seen a surge in migrants apprehended after they cross the border illegally in recent months. Hachita is 45 miles north of the border.

So, as planned—I turned south at Hachita and drove the last forty-five miles to Antelope Wells.