Las Cruces City Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday that would allocate $75,000 to provide temporary care for the asylusm seekers in Las Cruces.
"This community deals with the situation that it has been handed," said City Councilor Greg Smith, who represents district two. "We didn't ask for it."
"Just because we have the money, we don't have to spend it," said Lori English, a Las Cruces resident.
Last week, federal immigration officials began releasing hundreds of asylum seekers in Las Cruces, city leaders said. Like the thousands that have been released in El Paso, these are legal migrants who are in the process of applying for asylum. Family members must purchase them a bus or plane ticket to their asylum hearing in another part of the country.
"We were given one choice frankly: between having the Customs and Border Protection agency drop them on our streets and simply leave them to fend for themselves... or to do what we are doing," Smith said.
"These people have not contributed a cent to our society," English said.
The Meerscheidt Recreation Center is currently closed to the public in Las Cruces for temporary migrant care.
Following Monday's meeting, council members also voted to use the money outside city limits if there is a need to drive migrants to the airport or transport them food. They did limit the use of the money to Doña Ana County and El Paso County.
"I won't pretend to have a solution to this growing national crisis," said Bianca Kertson, a mother and wife of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. "However, we do not know who a lot of these people and these groups are. What we do know is that they are not being vetted; they are only being released on their own recognizance due to the overflow and lack of space at our Border Patrol facilities."
Mayor Ken Miyagishima told the public that the $75,000 will come from a fund that was intended for medical use. The money would largely be used to purchase medical supplies, the mayor said.
"By not having an organized response to this influx of asylum seekers, we'd spend a lot more money than we're talking about today," said Councilor Jack Eakman, who represents district four. "The number of people who would make excited calls to our police department - because someone who doesn't look like them is standing outside their door - would cost us a tremendous amount of money."
On Tuesday night, the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management on Monday praised the Las Cruces City Council.
“This is a necessary step in staying on top of what will likely be a protracted influx of people from Customs and Border Protection,” wrote DHSEM Secretary Jackie White in a news release. “Critical coordination between Las Cruces, Dona Ana County and the state continues to serve as a foundation for a productive response at the local level. My agency is here on the ground to support local jurisdictions in whatever capacity they need.”