NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
A Republican candidate told Fox News he would launch a border task force if he’s elected governor of New Mexico.
“We’re going to create that border enforcement force that will do two things,” Mark Ronchetti said. “Number one, they’re going to go after the central flow in the state, and then number two, going to go after human trafficking here.”
Ronchetti, who worked as a journalist before moving into politics, said the border force would consist of 150 officers. He told Fox News it would fill in gaps left by the federal government.
“We’re 600 border agents short in New Mexico in our sector of the border right now,” Ronchetti said.
BIDEN’S TITLE 42 IMMIGRATION DECISION WILL CREATE A NATIONAL CATASTROPHE
The candidate also said the border surge has fueled drug overdoses and violent crime in his state. Those issues will worsen if Title 42 is eliminated, Ronchetti told Fox News.
Title 42, a policy implemented under the Trump administration, allowed federal officials to quickly deport migrants to mitigate COVID-19. The policy will end May 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday, though congressional lawmakers are trying to reverse the decision.
“Title 42 helped try to keep things somewhat under control here during the end of the Trump administration and through the beginning of the Biden administration,” Ronchetti said. “But now what we’re seeing is, with the Biden administration trying to roll that back, there’s real concern here that we’re going to see more chaos on a border that is already overwhelmed.”
There were more than 2 million migrant apprehensions at the border in 2021, and more than 900,000 migrant encounters this year, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Apprehensions could rise to more than 18,000 per day if Title 42 is lifted, DHS officials have said.
“If you talked to ranchers on the border here in New Mexico, they’ll tell you it’s a nightly occurrence here that they’re dealing with people flowing through and over their property, leaving things behind,” Ronchetti said.
CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
The GOP candidate said drugs crossing the border, particularly fentanyl, have fueled both violent crime and overdoses throughout the state.
“We’re the second-most violent state in the country,” Ronchetti told Fox News. “Last year in Albuquerque, we set an all-time record for murders.”
Drug overdoses have increased in New Mexico in recent years, with 776 deaths in 2020 – a 54% increase since 2016, according to a report by the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee. Heroin was involved in 51% of overdose deaths in 2019, while fentanyl accounted for 33%, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.
Isabelle McDonnell contributed to this report.