1st Congressional District candidate Antoinette Sedillo Lopez - Albuquerque Journal

1st Congressional District candidate Antoinette Sedillo Lopez

  • NAME: Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Law Professor (emeritus)
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Member of Bernalillo County/ City of Albuquerque Air Quality Control Board, 27 year Law Professor, Associate Dean of UNM School of Law; Executive Director of Enlace Comunitario. President and/or Board member of Southwest Women’s Law Center, Valley Improvement Association, NM Hispanic Bar Association, MALDEF
  • EDUCATION: Bachelors, University of New Mexico, JD UCLA School of Law
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: AntoinetteforCongress.com

IMMIGRATION

1. Please give your position on DACA.

I support the DREAM Act, which provides a pathway to citizenship for all 800,000 young people who know no other country as their home. These young people are contributing members of our communities, have no criminal history, and have been promised by our federal government a place in this country. We should honor that commitment by providing a legislative fix to a problem we’ve only managed to address through the executive branch.

2. Do you favor amnesty, a path to citizenship or worker permits for most or all of the people now living illegally in the U.S.? Who do you think, if anyone, should be deported?

I support humane immigration reform that provides legalization and a path to citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are currently contributing to our economy and the social fabric of our country. Our federal immigration policies should strive to bring the undocumented community out of the shadows, reunite families, and provide protections to exploited immigrant workers. On the question of who should be deported, it would need to be based on a strict definition of what constitutes a ‘criminal alien.’

3. Do you believe the borders are secure enough? If not, what do you propose should be done to increase their security? Do you support Trump’s proposal to build a $25 billion wall?

I do believe the border is secure. Over the course of the last 25 years, border security spending has increased more than 14 times and now tops $4 Billion annually. We’ve increased the number of border patrol agents by over 500% in that same time period. Since 2000, we’ve built over 700 miles of steel wall barricades and double-sided fencing. The border has been sufficiently secured. I unequivocally do not support Trump’s proposal to build a border wall if for no other reason than it is entirely unnecessary.

4. What’s your position on skills-based immigration vs. family-based?

I do not believe that the two are mutually exclusive. Honoring the values of keeping families together to allow communities to thrive is a truly American endeavor. Moreover, nearly half of the immigrants who come to the United States through the family and diversity visa programs hold college or graduate degrees, making them better educated than the average U.S. born citizen. I believe we can prioritize highly skilled immigration while also honoring our long-standing commitment to the family-based immigration system we’ve had in place. This is a false dichotomy.

 

SCHOOL SAFETY AND GUN CONTROL

1. Do you favor a federal ban on the sale of assault-style weapons? If so, what would you do about the millions of the assault-style weapons now legally owned by American citizens?

Yes, I unequivocally support a federal ban on the sale of assault-style weapons. I would support a robust federal gun buyback program to get these weapons off of our streets, and I would include a phase out period that is accommodating.

2. What other, if any, gun law changes would you support?

I believe that we need to close the ‘gun show loophole,’ place further restrictions to keep domestic abusers from purchasing a gun, pass legislation requiring a universal background check for all gun purchases, and stop any conceal carry reciprocity among states which would mean that states would not have any power to legislate their own standards about permitting individuals to carry concealed weapons.

3. Would you favor a repeal of the 2nd amendment?

No, as a law professor, I know that it isn’t necessary to repeal the 2nd amendment to enact common sense gun safety laws.

4. While much of the discussion on school safety centers on gun control, what other measures would you support to make schools safer?

As the former director of an anti-domestic violence agency, I believe that we need to get at root causes to try to solve the problem of gun violence and improve safety in our communities. With that said, I believe in more robust federal funding for mental health services, expanding funding for early childhood education and after school programs. We need to expand on violence prevention programs. I believe that if we offer services that improve the overall health and wellbeing of communities, the root causes that lead to violence will be greatly diminished.

 

FOREIGN POLICY

1. What do you propose the U.S. do with regards to Syria?

Our main concern ought to be addressing the refugee crisis that has been the result of this conflict. Our government has a responsibility (under the Refugee Act) to conduct federal refugee resettlements, and we have been negligent in that responsibility as it relates to the Syrian people. Yet, resolving the conflict and building a sustainable peace in Syria requires continued diplomacy fostered by coalition-led discussions. I believe that a resolution must include two primary elements: a negotiated removal of President Assad, resulting in transparent, free and fair elections thereafter, and the creation of conditions for the return of displaced persons and refugees.

2. In Afghanistan?

It is absolutely true that a resolution to the problem in Afghanistan are more complex than past political rhetoric surrounding this area of foreign policy. Though, I believe that President Trump’s decision to increase our military presence there last year was not the correct action. The primary obstacles standing in the way of building an enduring peace in that country are driven primarily by the issues stemming from the broken negotiations between the Afghan government (largely supported by the west) and the Taliban (supported in no small part by the Pakistani government). And so we are left with a stalemate that I believe can only be overcome through continued and effective diplomacy.

3. In Mexico?

The relationship that we have with Mexico is a special one based on history, shared culture, and economic collaboration. The extensive trade and investment relationship between our two countries is important, but certainly worth scrutinizing for its impact on our own labor force as well as that of the Mexican people. As our third largest trading partner, it is incumbent on us to consider the implications that this relationship, particularly in the NAFTA context, has had on our manufacturing base and ultimately the health and well-being of our overall labor force.

4. Relations with Russia are said to be at their worst in many years after allegations of Russian meddling in our elections, the Trump administration’s decision to sell weapons to Ukraine and the recent expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats. Do you approve of these actions? What would your posture be towards Russia?

No, I do not support the sale of weapons, but I am in support of the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Though I understand that the weapons sold to the Ukrainian government addresses specific military and national security vulnerabilities that the Ukrainians are dealing with in combating Russian-backed separatists, I do not see escalation in military conflict as productive. The scale of Russian intervention in other sovereign territories is alarming, and their support for figures like Assad are deeply harmful for the prospects of peace. Our posture should be one of deterrence. Yet, I do not believe escalating into a military conflict, either through proxies in the middle east or in eastern Europe, are a reasonable path forward.

5. If talks fail, would you support a pre-emptive strike on North Korea to degrade its nuclear capabilities and missile delivery systems?

No, the costs and loss of life are simply too great to warrant a pre-emptive strike. The events following a pre-emptive strike are unpredictable, and would likely result in a response that would risk hundreds of thousands of American and South Korean lives.

 

ECONOMY

1. How would you make New Mexico less dependent on federal spending?

I believe that we need to diversify our state’s economy in order to become less dependent on federal spending. Part of that means ensuring that our government is providing the types of services and programs that are conducive to building up human capital that allows for a thriving economy. That includes providing good public schools, making higher education and vocational training accessible to all, and building an infrastructure that allows our small businesses to grow. Sometimes, it’s important to spend money to make money, and investing in human capital will allow for a more successful and vibrant state economy that is less dependent on the federal government over the long term.

2. Do you support or oppose President Trump’s imposition of higher tariffs on China? Why or why not?

I do support some targeted tariffs on steel and other products that China has at times egregiously dumped into our markets to hurt American manufacturing. That would include effective anti-dumping regulation, agreements and enforcement. I also believe we need to rethink our trade policy, in particular as it relates to China. Our trade policy towards China has not benefited the American worker, and has instead benefitted large, multinational corporations. Targeted tariffs can help put our manufacturing base on an even playing field.

 

OTHER

1. Do you favor or oppose limits on late-term abortion, and do you believe tax dollars should or should not be used to fund abortions?

Speaking as a woman, a mother, a survivor, and a law professor, I unequivocally support a woman’s right to have access to a safe and legal abortion. It should not matter whether it occurs after the first trimester, because sometimes a late term abortion is a necessity because of the health and condition of the mother and/or the fetus. This decision should be between a woman and her doctor. Yes, I also believe that the federal government must ensure coverage for abortion care in public health insurance programs including Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

2. What should be done at the federal level to address the crisis of opioid addiction?

We should restrict access to opioid painkillers, while also investing federal resources in opioid addiction treatment. There are legislative proposals that impose three day limits on initial opioid prescriptions, and I would be supportive of ideas like this. We can increase civil and criminal penalties for opioid manufacturers who fail to report suspicious ordering or trends by prescribers.

3. Do you favor or oppose a national single payer health system? Explain.

I do support single payer healthcare, and I believe that healthcare is a human right. The current healthcare system still leaves nearly 30 million individuals uninsured, and continues to leave families nearing bankruptcy with overwhelming medical costs. Employment based provision of healthcare also places a burden on businesses that is not borne by Mexican, Canadian or European business competitors and limits small business growth. It’s time we join other Western and industrialized nations and provide single payer healthcare.

4. What would you do to rein in health care costs?

I would support single payer health care as a means of cost containment. As studies have shown it is cheaper than our current system.

5. If elected, are there any issues you could work with President Trump on, and would you be willing to do so?

Yes, I would work with him on trade issues, and try to work with him towards leveling the playing field for American manufacturing and the American worker.

6. If you had to decide today, would you vote to impeach President Trump?

Yes, I would vote to impeach President Trump. As a law professor, I take very seriously his attempts to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation as well as his attempts to cover up his behavior with women. I also believe that he is violating our constitution by ignoring the foreign emoluments clause. The constitution allows for impeachment proceedings in the event of “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” I believe that we are aware of evidence that this President’s behavior in ignoring the rule of law and our Constitution raises serious questions that justify impeachment proceedings..

7. Should the federal government play a role in setting education policy for the nation’s public schools? Explain your answer.

Yes, the federal government has a role in helping to set education policy for the nation’s public schools. The U.S. Department of Education is charged with enforcing federal education laws that protect the privacy and the civil rights of students, teachers and administrators. While our education is deliberately and appropriately decentralized, there is a role for the Department of Education in public education in ensuring that our important national values of equal education opportunity, such as those embodied in Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Title XI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are enforced.

8. Why do you want to be a member of Congress?

I want to be a member of Congress because in my 30 years as a law professor and social justice advocate, I’ve seen us make progress in some areas and not nearly enough in others. I’ve seen working people barely make ends meet in an economy that is by some measures ‘booming,’ but not working for the people that need it most. I’ve seen income inequality continue to grow and our schools continue to get defunded. I want to go to Congress to work for positive change in the lives of everyday New Mexicans and to give the people of this state a fighting chance. I want to help build a government that is worthy of the sacrifices made by the people of this state. I want to go to Congress to help build a government that puts human needs above all other interests; a government that says to our kids that their healthcare, their schools, their safety and their future are our main priorities.

 

PERSONAL BACKGROUND

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

No.

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

No.

3. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain.

No.

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez runs as expert on Constitution

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