Former New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez defended President Donald Trump’s call for a border wall as part of a deal to end the government shutdown and said Thursday “it’s disgusting” not to call the situation on the U.S. Mexico-border a crisis.
The Republican, who was the nation’s first Latina governor, told Fox News that Democrats should come to the table and agree to Trump’s wall in exchange for funding the federal government.
“I think the president’s plan is smart, and it’s multi-faceted,” Martinez said. “It includes a fence, but not for 2,000 miles.”
The president’s plan, she said, would call for slightly more than 200 miles of new fencing and would include money for humanitarian care. “Democrats aren’t budging on this, because they are beholden to the far left of their party,” Martinez said.
Democrats in Congress said they asked Trump to reopen the government during a recent meeting Wednesday, but he told them that, if he did, they wouldn’t give him money for the wall. Many Democrats are opposed to building a wall and have instead offered other security measures.
In response to comments by Martinez, Democratic Party of New Mexico chair Marg Elliston said the former governor was out of touch and is now carrying water for Trump and a wall that served little purpose.
“Martinez’s wasted words would be better spent on urging the president to reopen the government and work with Congress to put in place a clear and moral immigration system,” Elliston said.
Martinez left office on Jan. 1 after two consecutive terms as New Mexico governor, during which she rarely appeared on cable news outlets as governor.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, she denounced Trump for referring to Mexican immigrants as “rapists.”
The Washington Post reported that Martinez also told a crowd of about 60 wealthy GOP backers in April 2016 that then-candidate Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and force Mexico to pay for it was unrealistic and irresponsible.
In March 2018, the Houston Chronicle reported that Martinez told an audience at the Annual Women’s Conference & Business Expo in Houston that “everybody is sick and tired of the rhetoric” by the president.
At the time, Martinez said she was “very appalled by his statement when, with one stroke of a brush, he made all people from Mexico (look like criminals), describing them in a way that was absolutely, totally unfair,” the Chronicle reported.
Before leaving office, Martinez was invited a number of times to the White House and attended a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration there that was boycotted by then-Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who was serving as chair of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus.
Lujan Grisham replaced Martinez as New Mexico governor.