August 23, 2005

New Mexico governor wants Mexican village razed

SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - New Mexico Gov. Bill
Richardson will seek the bulldozing of a Mexican village to
improve border security at a meeting with the governor of the
Mexican state of Chihuahua this week, a Richardson spokesman
said on Tuesday.

Las Chepas is said to be a staging area for immigrants to
enter the United States illegally and for other criminal
activities, spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said.

An agreement by Mexican officials to raze the hamlet would
be "an important step forward for the Mexican government,
showing their commitment to work with us," Richardson said in
an interview published on Tuesday in the Las Cruces Sun-News in
Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Las Chepas, the nickname for the town more officially known
as Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, is in a remote desert area along
the border. It is said to have 60 to 100 residents who make a
living largely by selling supplies to U.S.-bound immigrants.

Richardson toured the area recently and was told by the
U.S. Border Patrol that "it was obviously being used as a
staging area, not just for immigration, but for the illegal
smuggling of human beings and drugs," Gallegos said.

Richardson, a Hispanic who has been mentioned as a possible
Democratic presidential or vice presidential candidate in 2008,
and Chihuahua Gov. Jose Reyes Baeza will meet on Friday in Las
Cruces, which is in southern New Mexico, Gallegos said.

Richardson declared a "state of emergency" for his state's
border area on August 12 because of what he described as an
increase in crime and illegal immigration and a lack of federal

Shortly afterwards, Gov. Janet Napolitano in neighboring
Arizona declared a state of emergency for her border with
Mexico, where a few months ago a vigilante group patrolled for
illegal immigrants.

Both states have seen an increase in illegal immigration
because routes in and near border cities traditionally used by
immigrants coming from Mexico have been cut off by stepped-up
U.S. Border Patrol efforts.