New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said Saturday that hundreds of detained immigrants represent the humanitarian consequence of false beliefs that anyone can stay in the U.S.
Martinez made the remarks after touring a temporary detention facility in Artesia, the Roswell Daily Record reported. She was joined by federal and state officials at the barracks of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
"This is no place for young mothers and babies. One is just 11 months old," Martinez said.
However, she praised medical staff for caring for immigrants who were severely dehydrated from their journey. According to Martinez, many of the immigrants residing there journeyed as long as long as 18 days.
The governor said a comprehensive immigration plan from Washington and the Obama administration is needed to stop the influx of immigrants.
"This is a 100 percent federal issue," Martinez said.
She criticized what she called piece-meal efforts such as partial deportations or permanent residency for people illegally brought to the U.S. as children.
More immigrants being held in Artesia will soon be sent back to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador as part of a plan for quick removal, authorities said. About 40 Central American immigrants were deported Monday by airplane from Roswell to Honduras.
The Obama administration has been struggling to deal with a flood of more than 57,000 children traveling alone since Oct. 1. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said earlier this month that as many as 90,000 unaccompanied child immigrants could be apprehended by the end of the budget year in September. Many said they are fleeing pervasive gang violence and crushing poverty.
The volume of child immigrants has significantly taxed resources at the Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments in recent months and prompted President Barack Obama to ask Congress to approve an emergency $3.7 billion spending bill to deal with the situation he has called an "urgent humanitarian crisis."
Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection recently launched a public relations campaign to warn would-be immigrants and their families in Central America that the trip to the U.S. border is dangerous and immigrant children will face deportation after they are apprehended. But since the trip through Mexico can take weeks or even months, recent border crossers are unlikely to have seen much of the campaign.