COLUMBUS, New Mexico -- Southern New Mexico Congresswoman Yvette Herrell flew back to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday after she and a group of Republican leaders visited the U.S.-Mexico border south of Columbus.
Herrell told ABC affiliate KOAT that they went to the border to talk to ranchers and farmers one-on-one about what the GOP is calling a crisis.
They also got a firsthand look at the unfinished border wall in the area.
As the U.S. sees a rise in migrants at the border, Republicans are looking to bring the issue front and center in New Mexico.
“We need to finish this wall because it really truly is a matter of national safety for our communities on the southern border,” Herrell said.
Herrell's district includes all 180 miles of the state's border with Mexico. She said more than 170,000 migrants have entered the country this year.
She said the unfinished border wall is a safety issue.
“This isn't the same issue that we're seeing in El Paso or on other parts of the border as we're seeing right here, because the folks coming across here are not wanting to get caught,” Herrell said. “They’re criminal-minded. They are trying to stay under the radar and that's what makes this so much more dangerous.”
She said dollars have already been allocated through the legislative process to finish construction. In the meantime, she's already asked New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to bring in the state's National Guard, but that request was denied.
In response, the governor pointed to the National Guard's support during this pandemic, such as staffing Covid-19 testing sites and said, “We encourage the congresswoman to most effectively address her own concerns by directing them to the federal agencies working on the issue."
Right now, Herrell’s putting that request aside and plans to push the Biden administration to finish that wall.
“There's no reason that we shouldn't have these gaps finished,” Herrell said. “The Border Patrol wants them done, the ranchers, farmers, communities, want them done.”
Herrell said she also toured the El Paso processing center operated by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement as well as the Santa Teresa Port of Entry on Monday.