- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 21, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. — Financial and logistical support for border communities coping with an influx of asylum-seeking migrants are on the agenda as the governor of New Mexico travels Tuesday to Washington to meet with federal officials.

The two-day visit announced by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham includes a meeting with acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, said Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the governor.

Lujan Grisham will advocate for federal reimbursements to communities as they provide humanitarian relief to migrant families.

Stelnicki said Lujan Grisham also wants to discuss the withdrawal of the U.S. Border Patrol from interior checkpoints in southern New Mexico. The closures have riled residents, prompting an emergency declaration by Otero County commissioners urging the state to intervene.

The communities are “taking on a lot of the cost of a federal problem, stepping into the breach,” Stelnicki said.

Lujan Grisham previously challenged President Trump’s description of a security crisis on the border as she withdrew all but a dozen national guardsmen who continue to address humanitarian needs in a remote corridor along the border.

Her administration has deployed State Police to a remote stretch of the border where local police are stretched thin, and marshaled state emergency management personnel to provide logistical support and shore up emergency radio communication systems.

Las Cruces, where more than 6,000 migrants have been dropped off by Border Patrol since April 12, has approved $575,000 in spending on aid for migrants from a hospital trust account.

The city and faith-based groups are providing temporary shelter, clothing, food and sanitary supplies to asylum seekers, who typically stay for one or two nights before departing to join family and other sponsors throughout the U.S.

As Las Cruces struggles to keep up, migrants have been dropped in the smaller community of Deming and bused in one instance to Denver.

On Monday, a dozen Republican legislators urged Lujan Grisham to reverse course and deploy more National Guard troops to the border. The governor’s office says troops are a costly, inappropriate option.

The first-year Democratic governor also is seeking a meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry regarding his oversight of nuclear waste storage facilities and federal weapons laboratories in New Mexico.

A meeting with U.S. Health and Human Services officials was being sought regarding resources for medical attention for migrants.

The governor’s trip includes partisan fundraising activities and will be paid for with campaign dollars, Stelnicki said.

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