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A Republican candidate has told Fox News he would launch a border task force if elected governor of New Mexico.
“We’re going to create this border enforcement force that will do two things,” Mark Ronchetti said. “First they’re going to tackle the central flow of the state, then number two, they’re going to tackle the human trafficking here.”
Ronchetti, who worked as a journalist before entering politics, said the border force would be made up of 150 officers. He told Fox News it would fill in the gaps left by the federal government.
“We’re short 600 New Mexico border agents in our area of the border right now,” Ronchetti said.
BIDEN’S TITLE 42 IMMIGRATION DECISION WILL CREATE NATIONAL DISASTER
The candidate also said surging borders have fueled drug overdoses and violent crime in his state. Those issues will get worse 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 on May 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Friday, although congressional lawmakers are trying to reverse the decision.
“Title 42 helped try to keep things under control here during the late Trump administration and early Biden administration,” Ronchetti said. “But now what we’re seeing is the Biden administration trying to backtrack, there’s a real concern here that we’re going to see more chaos on a border that’s already overwhelmed.”
There were more than 2 million migrant arrests at the border in 2021 and more than 900,000 migrant encounters this year, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Arrests could reach more than 18,000 a day if Title 42 is lifted, DHS officials said.
“If you’ve spoken to ranchers on the border here in New Mexico, they’ll tell you it’s a nighttime event here that they deal with people running through and across their property, leaving things behind,” Ronchetti said.
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The GOP candidate said drugs crossing the border, particularly fentanyl, have fueled both violent crime and overdoses across the state.
“We are the second most violent state in the country,” Ronchetti told Fox News. “Last year in Albuquerque, we set an all-time murder record.”
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 implicated 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.