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Immigration divides candidates in 1st Congressional District

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Democrat Deb Haaland said Tuesday that she would support abolishing ICE — the nation’s chief immigration enforcement agency — if elected to Congress.

“ICE was created to fight terrorism in our country,” she said in a forum, “and instead, they’re terrorizing families across the country.”

Republican Janice Arnold-Jones, by contrast, said she backs the federal government’s push to restrict federal funding to “sanctuary cities” that don’t cooperate with immigration authorities.

“When you set up a sanctuary city,” she said, “especially using Albuquerque as an example, we have given literally a get-out-of-jail-free card to people who are arrested for crimes.”

Their contrasting views on immigration surfaced Tuesday in a 45-minute forum sponsored by the Albuquerque Bar Association at the Hyatt hotel in Downtown Albuquerque

Libertarian Lloyd Princeton didn’t attend the forum because of a scheduling conflict, but a representative read statements on his behalf.

It was the first forum of its kind since Haaland won an intense primary race last month to claim the Democratic nomination for the 1st Congressional District. The Albuquerque-based seat is open because the incumbent, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, is running for governor rather than re-election.

The candidates faced individually tailored questions from moderator Jason Bousliman, managing attorney at the Weinstein & Riley law firm.

He asked Haaland directly about her support for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

Haaland, a former chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, confirmed her support but added that she isn’t in favor of “open borders” either.

“We absolutely need an agency to protect our borders,” Haaland said, “but we don’t need an agency to lay in wait outside of hospitals, courthouses and schools to arrest parents in front of their children.”

In follow-up question, she was asked why ICE ought to be abolished rather than change the laws it enforces.

“I’d be open to that,” Haaland said.

Arnold-Jones, a former state representative who was unopposed in the GOP primary, faced questions about restricting the flow of funding to “sanctuary cities,” as President Donald Trump has proposed.

She said that sanctuary policies end up hurting the safety of the very communities that their supporters say they want to help.

“If it takes withholding some of those federal funds to get that point across, that is a sad reality,” Arnold-Jones said. “But the better approach is making sure the agencies work together for the safety of all in our community.”

She was also asked whether she supports extending DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for young immigrants.

Arnold-Jones said the youngsters should have a chance to become citizens, not be “punished for the actions of their parents.”

The candidates also took some more lighthearted questions, including one about a book they’d read recently.

Haaland said she’d read “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” by David Grann, a nonfiction book about the killing of wealthy Native Americans.

Arnold-Jones said she’d recently reread “Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention,” a nonfiction book by Catherine Drinker Bowen, about the framers of the Constitution.

The last book Princeton read was “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future,” by Joseph Stiglitz, about income inequality in the United States.

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