New Mexico sheriff won't enforce stay-at-home orders that subvert constitutional rights

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The sheriff in New Mexico’s most populous county said in a video last week that he will not enforce any stay-at-home orders that subvert individuals’ constitutional rights, adding that his office will focus on helping families and businesses safe from crime.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales said in a video statement posted to the department’s YouTube channel Friday that, compared to other state and local governments around the country, New Mexico’s COVID-19 response involves "some of the most restrictive measures which significantly impacted countless New Mexicans’ livelihoods, health and well-being."

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He said Bernalillo County, which is home to the city of Albuquerque, has seen "more than its fair share of personal hardships and devastation" and that "we all agree we must do better."

"This year, my office listened to numerous citizens concerned about what have been categorized as ‘oppressive lockdown mandates’," he said. "I sympathize with the families, business owners, children and houses of worship to the point that they believe that their civil liberties are being compromised."

Gonzales said the "vast majority of schools are closed to meaningful in-person learning," while "New Mexico families are waiting in line for hours to buy foods and purchase other goods, and countless businesses have been shut down – many of which unlikely to open again."

"Some elected officeholders have prioritized turning everyday citizens into villains for simply attempting to live their lives in the pursuit of happiness," the sheriff continued. "It is my opinion that the resources of the sheriff’s office should be focused on making our communities safe and more prosperous for everyday citizens. As the sheriff, duly elected by the Bernalillo County citizens, I choose to direct this agency’s time and resources toward the laws deemed to keep the people free of crime."

"Overreaching restrictions will only hurt our community," Gonzales said. "For that reason, we will not follow along with any orders that subvert your Constitutional rights. Therefore, my agency’s focus will continue to be public safety, apprehending actual criminals, and not attempting everyday citizens attempting to make a life for themselves and their families in Bernalillo County."

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Gonzales wrapped the message by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. He did not mention New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham by name, but the sheriff’s statement was published hours after Grisham, along with the state health department, announced they would temporarily reenact a statewide order closing in-person services for all nonessential activities.

The heightened restriction statewide will be in effect for the next two weeks and are meant "to blunt the unprecedented spike of COVID-19 illnesses and to attempt to relieve dramatically escalating strain on hospitals and health care providers across the state," according to the state health department's website.

New Mexico health officials recorded 1,077 news cases of the coronavirus Sunday, bringing the state total up to 129,993. Of the new cases, 278 were traced to Bernalillo County. There were 16 additional deaths statewide related to COVID-19, four of which were traced to Bernalillo County, according to the latest figures from the state health department.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment Monday.

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"Over 2,000 New Mexicans have been killed by COVID-19, including over 460 people in Bernalillo County," a spokesperson for Grisham’s office said in a statement provided to KOB 4. "It is deeply disappointing, not to mention directly harmful, that any public official would take any action that undermines the health and safety of their community. All New Mexicans should agree on the importance of doing anything and everything we can to save lives."

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