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Lawmakers rail at Journal over editorial cartoon

SANTA FE — An editorial cartoon published Wednesday by the Journal continued to cause reverberations today, with state lawmakers and all members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation taking the newspaper to task.

On the Senate floor, seven Democratic senators spent more than 30 minutes criticizing the syndicated cartoon, which also got attention from several national media outlets.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, described the editorial cartoon as “highly offensive” and “beyond the pale,” while other senators called for subscriptions to be cancelled.

Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, a Republican, also weighed in during today’s floor session, describing the cartoon as “wrong.”

“I’m offended as a Republican, and I’m offended as a conservative, that they would try to depict Democrats as thugs and terrorists,” Sanchez said.

The editorial cartoon also drew harsh criticism on the House floor.

House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, said young immigrants “are not criminals.”

Publishing the cartoon “sends a distasteful message to all New Mexicans,” she said.

The syndicated cartoon that ran in the Journal showed an apparently frightened white couple being accosted at gunpoint by members of MS-13, an international criminal gang targeted by President Donald Trump whose members are primarily from Central America.

On Wednesday, Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich both denounced the cartoon on social media. On Thursday, the entire New Mexico congressional delegation — including Republican Rep. Steve Pearce — weighed in. Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham also put their names on the statement Thursday, as did New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

“The day after the Journal editorialized to say ‘our elected representatives in Washington should put aside some of the vitriol and make a real effort to come to agreement on an immigration reform package,’ the editors printed a cartoon that does the exact opposite,” the statement said. “Instead of putting aside the vitriol, this cartoon feeds it. It plays to the most false and negative stereotype of ‘Dreamers,’ which can only serve to enrage extremists. Instead of highlighting some middle ground that could be fertile for agreement, this cartoon pushes the two sides further into their respective corners.”

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