The Residents of Hachita Want Trump’s Border Wall
New Mexico’s governor says there is no emerging crisis at the border, but one town disagrees with her.
Earlier this year, Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico visited the southern border in her own state, declaring that she did not see anything on her visit that would indicate an emerging crisis.
However, residents of the southwestern town of Hachita live with the border crisis every day, and they say the governor is just flat wrong.
The town is very remote, and has less than 100 residents. Highway 81 runs through the town, ending at the Antelope Wells border point. Hachita is about 45 miles north of that. As such, the town has become a hub of illegal immigration. Residents frequently hear illegal immigrants talking outside their homes, leaving them very uneasy because they don’t know what is going on. In late January, border patrol apprehended a group of over 300 immigrants. Since October 2018, more than 25 groups of 100 or more people have been apprehended there.
Residents are angry
Hachita residents like retiree Bonnie Denzler are angry with Governor Grisham for making such an uneducated statement. As Denzler told the Great Falls Tribune, “She (the governor) needs to come down here to see how wide open the border is and how easily people jump the fence. It’s not safe here but she is spouting that it is.” Denzler is retired and moved back to Hachita because she has family history there; she said that she and her husband never want to look outside the window because they don’t know what they will find.
The border crossing near Hachita is relatively easy to cross, and groups of over 100 immigrants routinely make the trip. Since October, border patrol agents have apprehended over 26 such groups trying to illegally cross into the United States.
The infiltration is so bad that residents have guard dogs and have erected fences around their property. They call Border Patrol when they hear people outside their homes. The port of entry officially closes at 4 p.m., and Border Patrol officials say that is when migrant activity increases in Antelope Wells because it is much easier to cross the remote desert area at night.
As immigrant authorities have cracked down on larger border crossings like El Paso, smaller places like Antelope Wells have experienced a tremendous increase in migrant traffic as Mexican smugglers have diverted there attention there.
Hachita is like many towns, with too few border patrol agents or other law enforcement to cover the vast desert expanse that is the southern border.
Many residents of Hachita have left because of the immigrant threat. The town has more vacant buildings than occupied ones. It only has one gas station and a single store, and children are bused to nearby Animas for school 30 miles away.
Resident Amanda Adame lives on a large Hachita ranch with her family. Her nearest neighbor is six miles away. The Adame family regularly finds water bottles, blankets and backpacks left behind by the immigrants who regularly cross her land.
Adame does not so much fear the asylum seekers as she fears the drug cartels. She once saw eight men with camouflage gear and high-powered rifles cross her land. Adame said that the border patrol is so busy processing the asylum seekers that the cartels are finding it much easier to get in. Adame said that she is often scared for her life.
Disease Is Rampant
The border patrol agents are overworked because the large numbers of illegal immigrants are actually trying to get caught because once arrested, they are taken to a border patrol station where they are then safe from the harsh desert climate. Once in U.S. custody, the border crossers have free access to food, water and unfettered health care.
One man who came across in the 300-person caravan had a flesh-eating bacteria. He was diagnosed by hospital staff. Many of the unaccompanied children who cross are in need of immediate medical assistance and are regularly taken to nearby hospitals for treatment. In December, a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died shortly after crossing the border. Most detainees are taken to Lordsburg station, about 90 minutes from Antelope Wells.
Residents of Hachita and nearby areas definitely live the border crisis every day. Many in the town said that a tall, sturdy border wall could mean the difference between life and death.
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