Albuquerque.-Some residents in a small town in southern New Mexico, immigrant advocates and others are expressing concern about the arrival of workers in the community during the coronavirus pandemic as part of the federal government’s efforts to build the wall. frontier.
Villagers are calling for the state’s top elected officials to intervene after the project’s federal contractor began building mobile homes.
The request reflects growing fears at the southern and northern borders of the United States regarding construction workers who may carry the virus to areas with few health services.RELATED
Opponents of the work argued in a letter that public health orders issued by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham are aimed at limiting groups of people and contacts to prevent the pandemic from worsening.
“We respectfully ask that you do everything possible to stop the arrival of workers from other states to our border communities, to protect the safety and health of rural New Mexico residents and border communities,” the letter says. “The lives of residents depend on it.”
Work on the Keystone XL pipeline began over the weekend in a remote area of northern Montana. Governor Democrat Steve Bullock said concerns about planned camps for workers that could house up to 1,000 people should be resolved before TC Energy finalizes its construction plans.
In most cases, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that disappear within two to three weeks. For others, especially the elderly and people with health problems, it can lead to more severe conditions and even death.
Despite a restriction on the movement of people throughout most of the United States, border wall and pipeline work is exempt from confinement orders. Even in New Mexico, public health orders establish exemptions for infrastructure operations, such as public works and road repair and construction.
The Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees contractors working at the border, told The Associated Press last week, when initial concerns surfaced, that the agency follows federal guidelines, but declined to offer specific details on how will protect public health during construction.
Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has long criticized President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and plans to build more sections of the border wall. Last year, your government tried unsuccessfully to sue federal immigration authorities for its handling of the increase in asylum seekers.
Lt. Governor Howie Morales said Monday that workers pose an additional risk. The works are being done near Columbus, a small town of less than 1,500 people located about 130 kilometers (80 miles) west of El Paso, Texas.
Morales has been in communication with the Mayor of Columbus, Esequiel Salas, regarding the 40 to 60 workers who will arrive in the community. He said these workers will have to go shopping and pick up food from local restaurants, which means more contact with the community.
“The national emergency now is not to build the border wall. The national emergency is the health crisis we are facing, “said Morales, who stressed that the focus should be to increase the capacity of the health system.
Ray Trejo, coordinator of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, visited Columbus on Monday and saw long lines of portable housing. His group was one of the signatories of the letter, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and other organizations.
“Although we all do our best to stay home and adhere to the governor’s guidelines, these individuals pose an uncontrollable threat to our community because they work shoulder to shoulder in confined spaces and move in and out of our city and They shop at our local businesses. They should leave tomorrow, “said Trejo.
SLS, a Texas-based federal contractor, received nearly $ 790 million last year to install steel bollards in southern New Mexico.
Border security promises were a central part of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. After an increase in the number of migrants arriving at the southern border of the United States in 2019, the goal was set to have 800 kilometers (500 miles) of fenced for early next year. More than 100 miles (161 kilometers) have been built, most to replace decades-old barriers.