Q&A: U.S. Representative District 2 candidate Xochitl Torres Small
- NAME: Xochitl Torres Small
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: Attorney, specializing in water
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Las Cruces
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE:
- EDUCATION: Georgetown University, University of New Mexico School of Law
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: XochforCongress.com
Xochitl Torres Small is a water attorney and former staffer for Sen. Tom Udall. After attending college, she returned home to work on then Rep. Tom Udall’s successful run for the Senate. Following his victory, she helped to set up his southern New Mexico district office, which was responsible for serving much of the current 2nd Congressional District. As a Field Representative for Sen. Udall, Xochitl worked on issues ranging from water conservation and infrastructure development to education and health care accessibility.
Inspired by her work on water for Sen. Udall, Xochitl left his office to attend law school at the University of New Mexico (UNM), where she specialized in natural resources and conservation. Immediately after completing her degree, she clerked for a New Mexico federal judge with one of the heaviest criminal dockets in the country. Most recently, Xochitl practiced law at Kemp Smith focusing mostly on water law.
On the topic of immigration
Please give your position on DACA.
For many of the young people protected by DACA and other DREAMers, the United States is the only home they’ve ever known. DACA recipients are high school and college students, service members, full-time employees, and tax payers aspiring towards the American Dream. I fully support DACA because DREAMers, and what they bring to our communities, are an example of what make our country great.
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?
As a former clerk for a federal judge with one of the heaviest criminal dockets in the country, I have seen firsthand the costs our nation bears because of its broken immigration system. I am in favor of comprehensive immigration reform that includes options to bring people out of the shadows, allows individuals to work and live in the United States legally, and provides a meaningful pathway to citizenship for qualified applicants. As a part of such reform, we can improve border security and prioritize law enforcement so we are targeting criminals rather than ripping apart families.
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?
Growing up near the border and working on issues of border security for Sen. Udall, I know how important it is to secure our borders. However, I oppose the construction of a border wall because like most New Mexicans, I understand that a wall is both ineffective and an inefficient use of our resources. I believe we need to support and fund proven effective security measures as well as increased technology and surveillance along the border to better allow agents to identify activity and respond in a timely manner.
What’s your position on skills-based immigration vs. family-based?
Our immigration policy must reflect the needs of our country. A multi-option immigration policy recognizes that immigrants are more likely to be successful, productive members of our communities when they have a strong network of family to support their transition, while also filling existing national skills gaps by creating work permits and pathways to citizenship based on certain skills, from agriculture to STEM.
On the topic of school safety and gun control:
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?
I grew up in a household with guns and hunting is part of my heritage. One of the first serious conversations I remember having with my grandfather was about gun safety. To improve gun safety, we must implement common sense gun laws to close loopholes, efforts supported by not only a majority of Americans, but also a majority of gun owners. Additionally, experts on all sides of this issue, law enforcement, mental health and gun safety experts, the hunting community, gun rights’ groups and students should be brought together to develop measures that make for responsible and safer gun ownership.
What other, if any, gun law changes would you support?
I am a hunter and I grew up with guns. I believe what most gun owners believe – that we need to implement common-sense gun safety measures such as keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people, including domestic abusers, requiring comprehensive background checks for all gun sales, and closing loopholes in existing laws to keep our kids and communities safe.
Would you favor a repeal of the 2nd amendment?
While much of the discussion on school safety centers on gun control, what other measures would you support to make schools safer?
There’s general agreement that we need to invest in the long-term solution of supporting access to mental health care – in schools, in rural and urban communities, and no matter your income.
On the topic of foreign policy:
What do you propose the U.S. do with regards to Syria?
We must operate with a clear strategy, including a defined objective and timeline for involvement, to avoid entrenching ourselves in another conflict. That is why the President should only act with congressional authorization of military force. Our strategy should further two goals: preventing the return of the Islamic State and arriving at a diplomatic resolution to the civil war.
The war in Afghanistan has become America’s longest war in history. After 16 years, we need a plan to bring our troops home. The President has failed to explain what he seeks to achieve by increasing our presence from 8,500 to almost 15,000 troops. Our ultimate objective must remain keeping Al Qaeda or the Islamic State from establishing a safe haven in Afghanistan and minimizing the instability that allows anti-U.S. terrorist groups to operate. To accomplish this, we must pursue a three-pronged strategy involving defense, development, and diplomacy.
As New Mexicans, we must maintain strong, collaborative relationship with our neighbor, Mexico. International trade is essential to New Mexico’s local economy, producing over $3.6 billion in revenue, creating 15,000 jobs, and supporting 1,400 businesses, most of which are small- and medium-sized businesses.
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?
Like a majority of Americans, I believe we must impose stricter sanctions to counter Russia’s dangerous and aggressive behavior. We must also rely on our intelligence agencies, secure our social media platforms, and combat the proliferation of false information, which can be weaponized by our adversaries to weaken our democratic institutions.
If talks fail, would you support a pre-emptive strike on North Korea to degrade its nuclear capabilities and missile delivery systems?
If talks fail, the U.S. must work with its allies and China to increase pressure on the regime and force them back to the table.
On the economy:
How would you make New Mexico less dependent on federal spending?
We need to invest in our rural communities and smaller cities to support private-sector jobs. Economic growth depends on a ready and skilled workforce, 21st Century infrastructure, collaboration instead of one-size-fits-all regulation, and input from entrepreneurs and local leaders to capitalize on unique community assets. The federal government plays a role in supporting each of these components.
Do you support or oppose President Trump’s imposition of higher tariffs on China? Why or why not?
It is clear that in order to protect New Mexican workers we need to counter the unfair trade practices from China. This should be done, so that the interests of entrepreneurs, farmers, blue collar workers and other stakeholders are all represented. Reckless statements and impulsive tariffs will not result in a successful long-term strategy. In Congress, I’ll fight for fair trade policies that help New Mexican farmers, ranchers, businesses and workers.
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?
Most women who face a late-term abortion are in the midst of a medical crisis. Decisions like these should be made between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her faith. Their medical options should not be limited by politicians.
The result of prohibiting the use of tax dollars on abortion procedures is that low-income woman, who are insured by NM Medicaid, would not have access to life-saving medical procedures. All New Mexicans should have access to quality medical care.
What should be done at the federal level to address the crisis of opioid addiction?
The federal government needs to face the opioid crisis head-on. Thus far, Republicans in Washington have only paid lip service to this crisis, but have failed to direct any substantial resources to help states with emergency responses, addiction treatment, and stopping the flood of illegal opioids into the states. New Mexico has been a leader in these measures, and we’re seeing a third year of decreased deaths as a result. It’s time Washington learns from our best practices.
Do you favor or oppose a national single day payer health system? Explain.
I am focused on making affordable healthcare accessible to everyone. In southern New Mexico, many communities are faced with a lack of preventive and basic healthcare services. I want to work with communities to help bridge that gap by expanding incentives for healthcare service providers to practice in rural communities. We must also work to decrease the cost of prescription medication and strengthen Medicare.
What would you do to rein in health care costs?
While there are no easy answers, there are a handful of things we can do to begin addressing the continued rising costs of health care, including: stabilizing the insurance pool in order to lower premiums, prioritizing preventative care, and working to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
If elected, are there any issues you could work with President Trump on, and would you be willing to do so?
We need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, especially in rural communities and smaller cities. Right now, our safety, education, and ability to compete for jobs is limited by where we live. I would be glad to support an infrastructure bill that leveled the playing field for our communities.
I was also pleased to hear the President’s discussion of pay inequality in his State of the Union address. I am eager to work on this issue, which impacts women and families nationwide.
If you had to decide today, would you vote to impeach President Trump?
As an attorney, I believe in due process and that, after such a process, no one is above the law. We need to firmly support the independence of ongoing investigations to protect those principles and allow the facts to unfold.
Should the federal government play a role in setting education policy for the nation’s public schools? Explain your answer.
As a product of Las Cruces public schools and the daughter of an NEA member, I know that a strong education is essential to improving the quality of life from generation to generation. All students regardless of income, location, or background deserve a quality education. We must relentlessly advocate to increase funding for our public schools so that students have the resources they need, decrease our class sizes, institute universal Pre-K, and ensure our teachers receive the pay they deserve.
Why do you want to be a member of Congress?
Growing up in Las Cruces, I seldom felt I was represented by the person elected to do just that. As an adult, whether as a Field Representative for Senator Udall or in my capacity as a water attorney, I have spent my career delivering results for southern New Mexico. I have successfully fought to protect water for our farmers and ranchers, increase funding to NMSU, and expand broadband throughout our rural communities. In Congress, I will continue my work to support and represent southern New Mexico.
Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
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.