Group of 180 migrants arrested at New Mexico border


FILE – In this Jan. 4, 2016, file photo, a U.S. Border Patrol agent patrols Sunland Park along the U.S.-Mexico border next to Ciudad Juarez. A 7-year-old girl who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border with her father, died after being taken into the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol, federal immigration authorities confirmed Thursday, Dec. […]

Another large group of migrants has been arrested after illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, marking the latest in a wave of Central Americans who have been apprehended in remote areas of New Mexico, authorities said Wednesday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the group — made up primarily of families and unaccompanied children — crossed early Tuesday near Sunland Park, a community just west of the busy border city of El Paso, Texas.

It’s the second time in as many weeks that such a group has been encountered at Sunland Park. In mid-February, 311 people made their way around a pedestrian fence under the cover of darkness before being taking into custody. That was less than 24 hours after another group of 330 people were apprehended more than 150 miles (240 kilometers) to the west near the Antelope Wells port of entry.

More than two dozen large groups of 100 migrants or more have been apprehended in the region since Oct. 1, according to border officials.

“This is a situation that Border Patrol agents continue to face in southern New Mexico: hundreds of parents and children being encountered by agents after having faced a dangerous journey in the hands of unscrupulous smugglers,” the agency said in a statement Wednesday.

After initial medical screenings were conducted, agents called on Sunland Park medical technicians to assist with the latest group. The local responders treated some migrants, while others were transported to a local hospital.

The influx comes as state leaders push back against the Trump administration’s immigration and border policies, particularly President Donald Trump’s efforts to install more barriers along the border.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is among the critics. The Democrat has repeatedly challenged Trump’s description of a security crisis on the border and recently withdrew most of the state’s National Guard contingent, leaving about a dozen troops in a well-traveled corridor for cross-border migrants.

Her office reiterated Wednesday that a wall doesn’t address humanitarian and safety problems at the border.

“Our Health Department has been to the border to assess what medical assessment and service aid can be provided and where,” Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki wrote in an email. “In the meantime, we hope and expect the migrant families receive the medical attention they need.”

The governor’s office did not immediately say whether the Health Department would be taking any specific action or making recommendations to address the influx of migrants and the need for access to medical care across the region.

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