ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small believes bipartisan solutions can be reached on border security if members of Congress and some Trump administration officials would worry less “about scoring political points.”
The first-term Democrat whose district stretches to the southern border used the effort to end the partial government shutdown as an example of what could be accomplished. The shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, was forced because of a standoff over President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.
“It shows we can find solutions if we work together,” Torres Small told the Journal.
Torres Small is frustrated that part of the agreement to keep the government running hasn’t come to fruition. She said funding was included for additional immigration judges “but none have been hired.”
The agreement included $1.4 billion for additional barriers along the border, but Trump later declared a national emergency to obtain additional funding for his proposed wall. He had sought $5.7 billion from Congress. Additional funding could come from projects at military bases around the U.S.
“Obviously, there’s not a national emergency at the border,” Torres Small said. But she said there are problems that need to be addressed.
She’s been trying to educate other lawmakers about what’s been going on in rural areas.
Torres Small, who is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, voiced a concern about “the lack of leadership” in the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
But she voiced optimism based on her conversations with Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
“We talked about potential ways we can work together,” Torres Small said. “I pressed him about the need to invest in the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador).”
McAleenan visited the Antelope Wells Port of Entry and Lordsburg Border Patrol station last December following the death of 7-year-old migrant Jakelin Caal, who arrived with her father and other people from Central America seeking asylum.
“During that trip, he saw first hand the challenges we face along our border, especially in our most rural and remote regions,” Torres Small said.
Torres Small has co-sponsored bipartisan border security legislation with Republican Texas Congressman Will Hurd.
Her bill seeking to improve recruitment and retention of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol officers recently passed its first committee.
HAALAND BUSY DURING BREAK: Congress may not have been in session last week, but U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland was by no means on a vacation. She and fellow Democrat Ben Ray Luján hosted a field hearing last weekend on the impact of oil and gas drilling near sacred sites that included a tour of Chaco Culture Historical National Park.
She also served as the commencement speaker at the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, took part in a question-and-answer session with students at Del Norte High School, delivered the keynote address at a Government Alliance on Race and Equity and attended a Green New Deal town hall in Santa Fe. And that was just on Thursday.
“I think the people of District 1 deserve to have someone who is accessible,” Haaland said. “I want to make sure that I am. … I’m out and about as much as I can be.”
Scott Turner: firstname.lastname@example.org