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Coalition of Conservation, Faith, and Community Leaders Ask Governor Martinez to Oppose Border Wall in New Mexico

For immediate release

SANTA FE – A coalition of conservation, faith, and community leaders, as well as elected officials in New Mexico, have asked Gov. Susana Martinez to actively oppose President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall in southern New Mexico.

The letter asks the governor to oppose using or trading state resources to facilitate the construction of Trump’s border wall. On Feb. 1, New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn wrote a letter to Trump proposing to trade state land near the U.S.-Mexico border in exchange for federal land to help the administration build the border wall.

“New Mexicans from all walks of life are troubled by the governor’s silence on the construction of a massive border wall on our state’s southern border,” said Garrett Vene Klasen, NMWF executive director. “There is absolutely no good reason to reconstruct the existing fencing on our border at the expense of taxpayers. This misguided effort will seriously impact New Mexico’s trade economy, fragment and permanently damage international wildlife corridors and their desert ecosystems, and undermine hundreds of years of shared history and culture.”

Faced with a projected $250 million state budget deficit in 2018, it’s critical that New Mexico’s trade economy is bolstered, rather than damaged and permanently impacted by the potential trade war with Mexico that will likely be caused by the administration’s proposed tariffs on Mexican imports to offset the cost of the construction of his wall. Additionally, existing economic development and business recruitment efforts on New Mexico’s southern border could be pulled back or impacted by the proposition of the border wall, especially if New Mexico decides it wants to help the Trump administration facilitate its construction.

“Thanks to a growing trade sector with Mexico, New Mexico has set record highs in export growth in the last decade, creating thousands of jobs for New Mexicans along the way,” said Angelica Rubio, a State Representative from Las Cruces. “The Governor has consistently touted our state’s growing export economy and has personally cut the ribbon on dozens of new manufacturing, warehousing, logistics, and light assembly businesses in and around the Santa Teresa area on the U.S.-Mexico border. We hope she understands that facilitating the construction of a border wall will seriously harm one of the only bright spots in our state’s economy.”

Likewise, faith leaders from across New Mexico have denounced the construction of Trump’s wall, with more than 40 church leaders representing a diverse coalition of faiths signing on to the letter asking the Governor to oppose the construction of the border wall.

“Our faith calls on us to welcome the stranger, immigrant, and refugee and to respect the rights and dignity of all people,” said Andrew Black, a Presbyterian pastor from Santa Fe. “We are deeply concerned with the impact this wall would have on our brothers and sisters and how it will divide our human communities, but also how this wall will divide biotic communities and disrupt wildlife migration and corridors. We believe such statements are important to make from a theological, ethical, and ecological perspective.”

Supporters of the letter include Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea, the National Education Association, Santa Fe City Councilor Renee Villarreal, Mesilla Park State Representative Bill McCamley, and Rabbi Paul J. Critin of the Taos Jewish Center. The New Mexico Wildlife Federation hand-delivered their letter to Governor Martinez today.

“New Mexico is not a state that turns its back on its people and its culture,” said Vene Klasen. “For hundreds of years, diverse cultures have been living together in New Mexico and made it the unique place it is today. Furthermore, as people who love to hunt, fish and enjoy the great outdoors, we oppose the wall because it will harm one of our most dynamic wildlife corridors. I hope the governor is listening to the will of the people.”

In Southern New Mexico, NMWF and other conservation-minded partners have also recently launched the Nuestra Tierra project, a multi-pronged effort to connect underserved youth and New Mexican families to public lands and cultural landscapes that reflect the history of the border and of New Mexico, and to help create the next generation of conservation leaders.

Click here to read the full transcript of the letter as well as the list of its signers.