GOP Candidate Plans to Establish Border Task Force if Elected Governor

A GOP candidate for governor in New Mexico has pledged to create a border task force to tackle the issue of illegal immigration if he is elected.

In an interview with Fox News, Mark Ronchetti — a former meteorologist at local news station KRQE-TV — announced that he plans to form a “border enforcement force” made up of 150 officers to secure the southern border, since the federal government has failed to do so.

“We’re going to create that border enforcement force that will do two things,” Ronchetti stated. “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.”

“We’re 600 border agents short in New Mexico in our sector of the border right now,” he added.

Ronchetti went on to discuss a major issue that has been at the forefront of the immigration debate as of late: the Biden administration’s plans to end Title 42, which many have warned will bring a surge of illegal immigrants, drugs, and violent crime to border states like New Mexico.

The Trump-era policy that the administration plans to do away with had required migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait outside the country for their applications to be processed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the order would be expiring on May 23, an action opposed by congressional Republicans, and even some Democrats.

“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.”

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security have announced that border apprehensions could potentially rise by over 18,000 per day if the policy is rescinded. The agency reported that over 2 million border apprehensions occurred in 2021, and more than 900,000 encounters have already happened in 2022.

“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.

The GOP candidate also noted in his interview with Fox News that drug trafficking over the southern border has led to skyrocketing violent crime in New Mexico.

“We’re the second-most violent state in the country. Last year in Albuquerque, we set an all-time record for murders,” Ronchetti said.

Ronchetti is one of several Republicans running in the primary to eventually challenge incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D). Financial disclosures reported on April 11 revealed that Ronchetti’s campaign raked in more than $2.1 million since October 2021, which is more than twice as much raised by any of his Republican competitors in the same period.

New Mexico’s primary election is June 7, though citizens are able to submit absentee ballots beginning May 10.