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Lawsuits & Litigation

New Mexico Sues Trump Administration for Dumping Asylum-Seekers in Border Towns

— June 11, 2019

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham suggests the administration’s obsession with immigration is costing small towns big money.

New Mexico is suing the Trump administration, saying its rapid-fire release of migrants along the border is illegal and indiscriminate.

The suit, reports KVIA, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico on Monday. It seeks to end the “indiscriminate practice of releasing immigrants in communities in the state’s borderland area.” According to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the policy violates Washington’s own “safe release” directives.

Under “safe release,” KVIA writes, individual asylum-seekers may be provided assistance in reaching their intended, final destinations before a case is fully processed.

But the complaint says that “the sudden and unlawful abandonment of this policy was done without notice or opportunity for input by affected jurisdictions.”

But safe release was cut short in 2018, prompted by the Trump administration’s construal of Central American migrant caravans as crises. Gov. Grisham has since characterized the policy shift as a “derogation of duty,” prompted by the president and carried out by high-ranking federal officials.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent offers water to children after they illegally crossed from Mexico into Texas. While net migration from Central America and Mexico into the U.S. has dropped in recent years, unauthorized entries of unaccompanied minors has risen. Image via U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service/public domain.

Trump, claims Grisham, “is interested only in demonizing the vulnerable people who arrive at our border, stoking unfounded fears about national security while taking no action to substantively and proactively protect immigrants and our southern border communities from human- and drug-trafficking.”

The Associated Press adds that the lawsuit is the first of its kind, although it does resemble similar litigation brought against the Trump administration by San Diego County. That suit, says, challenges the government’s decision to cancel an array of services offered to asylum-seekers and migrants struggling to reach their intended destinations within the United States.

The wide-ranging cancelations of logistics assistance in New Mexico and elsewhere has made it more difficult for low-income, over-whelmed migrants to stay fit, healthy and financially stable after arriving in the U.S.

“In 2019, tens of thousands of asylum-seekers and family members that would have formerly received assistance with basic necessities and provided the means to travel to their final destinations all over the country have been left to fend for themselves in border-adjacent New Mexico towns,” the lawsuit says. “State and local governments have been forced to step in.”

According to the lawsuit, at least 9,000 asylum-seekers have been left in Las Cruces since April. Las Cruces, notes the Associated Press, only has a population of about 100,000 people.

Other cities like Deming—home to 14,000—have received nearly 5,000 migrants.

The New Mexico government says it’s had to set aside hundreds of thousands of dollars for towns struggling to accommodate cast-off asylum-seekers.

The governor’s office says the lawsuit seeks the compelled reinstatement of the “safe release” policy ended by President Trump last year.


New Mexico Is Suing the Trump Administration Over Quick-Release Asylum Practices

State of New Mexico suing Trump over immigration actions in the Borderland

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