Sunland Park Police Chief: “We help each other because that’s what law enforcement does”
SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico (Border report) – The westward shift of illegal immigration to the El Paso area has forced this southern New Mexico city to cope with waves of trespassing calls and help those injured while crossing the border wall in recent months.
It has also strengthened the partnership between the Sunland Park Police Department and the U.S. Border Patrol, whose officers need all the help they can get these days.
“We have had situations where people threw stones at the border patrol. They are more than enough to defend themselves, but all the same, we will help them because that is what the police do. We help each other, ”said Sunland Park Police Chief Javier Guerra.
Border officers have also come to the rescue when locals face unexpected and potentially disturbing calls related to migrants.
Officers assisted Sunland Park Police earlier this week when two migrants disguised as students walked through a college campus and went into hiding while waiting for their ride. The same was true last week when an elementary school closed after school officials spotted another migrant on the ground.
“We tell managers to call us when that happens and we respond. The border patrol is also responding. It’s a partnership, ”Guerra said.
This symbiotic relationship has just earned the department the “Stonegarden Partner Award” from the Border Patrol. Such partnerships are needed at a time when transnational criminal organizations are looking for vulnerable areas to profit from migrant smuggling, said Gerardo Galvan, the officer in charge of the Santa Teresa border patrol station.
“The current flow of individuals exploiting the (border) into southern New Mexico, particularly Sunland Park, continues to challenge (our) ability to keep residents and businesses safe in the communities we serve,” Galvan said. “The partnership between Chief Guerra and his team with the (Border Patrol) is aimed at providing a safe and secure community for the residents of Sunland Park, and Operation Stonegarden helps focus and strengthen our common efforts. ”
Operation Stonegarden is a Department of Homeland Security program that funds improved law enforcement in areas known as migrant corridors in border states and communities.
“We have a great relationship with Border Patrol. We help each other for public safety in Sunland Park. Their priority is to enforce immigration laws. Our job is to answer 911 calls, ”Guerra said. “(Sometimes) it turns out these calls are immigrant cases, so we’ll just call them to come and take care of.”
Unauthorized migration has shifted to the Sunland Park-Santa Teresa area partly because of geography and partly because of Mexican cartel activity.
A mountain 4,700 feet above sea level called Cristo Rey straddles the US-Mexico border at Sunland Park, providing cover for groups of migrants and their “guides.” A half-mile jog brings those who jump the border wall – mostly Mexicans, Central Americans, and Ecuadorians – to the heavily Hispanic residential areas of Sunland Park.
Across the border, groups associated with the Juarez cartel, notably “La Empresa”, are taking over at least part of the smuggling activity in the Anapra region, serving as a conduit for migrants coming this far. than Ecuador, US and Mexican authorities. to say..