Border Patrol reopens highway checkpoints in New Mexico

Border Crime

A tractor-trailer rig passes through the U.S. Customs inspection station at Sierra Blanca, east of El Paso, Texas on April 29, 2004. A Mexican immigrant who was lost and injured in Sierra Blanca is now safe after being rescued by Border Patrol agents over the weekend. (AP Photo/J.R. Hernandez)

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — Border Patrol checkpoints that closed in New Mexico when personnel were reassigned to assist the processing of asylum-seekers earlier this year have reopened.

Officials say a decrease in the number of migrants arriving at the border has allowed for agents to return to the posts. The surge in illegal crossings during the last few months had overwhelmed the system, requiring agents to be reassigned.

The Alamogordo Daily News reported this week that two checkpoints have reopened on two highways in Otero County.

The closure in March prompted county officials to declare a state of emergency and ask Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to send National Guard troops to staff the checkpoints.

With the checkpoints open, officials say agents are watching for human smuggling, drug trafficking and any people who may be wanted fugitives. They say the checkpoints are a secondary layer of defense against criminal activity attempting to make its way into the United States.

Alamogordo and county officials said the checkpoint closures resulted in more drugs moving through the area and an increase in crime.

Four other checkpoints have reopened near Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas.

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