- Associated Press - Friday, April 27, 2018

SANTA TERESA, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez visited National Guard troops deployed to the U.S-Mexico border, praising their work with the Border Patrol as bolstering security for the state and country.

The Republican governor toured the Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station for several hours Thursday, getting a firsthand look at operations in southern New Mexico.

“The protection of our border is everything to make sure Americans are safe,” Martinez said.

The 61 National Guardsmen deployed to the station near El Paso, Texas, volunteered for the border duty, she said. The governor expects to deploy up to 150 - down from the 250 she previously announced.

“Of course, it’s a fluid number. It depends how things go,” Martinez said.

The soldiers were sent south earlier this month after President Donald Trump called for up to 4,000 National Guard troops to be deployed along the border.

The New Mexico troops trained for about a week with Border Patrol agents to learn their supporting role, Brig. Gen. Tom Bump said. The troops will not detain or arrest people but will be used to free up agents from other duties.

“They’re the lead, and that’s the way we’re going to approach it,” Bump said, referring to Border Patrol agents.

The guardsmen are expected to help with vehicle maintenance and care of horses used by agents in mounted patrols. Other soldiers will assist in monitoring with border surveillance cameras.

“I cannot imagine anybody would oppose keeping our country or state safe,” Martinez said. “You don’t know the intent of every single person that gets across that border and ends up in the country as an illegal.”

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