Q&A: 2nd Congressional District Candidate Xochitl Torres Small
- NAME: Xochitl Torres Small
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: U.S. representative for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Las Cruces
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: U.S. representative. Prior to being elected in 2018, worked on water and natural resources law and a former staffer for Sen. Tom Udall. Also clerked for a New Mexico federal judge with one of the heaviest criminal dockets in the country.
- EDUCATION: Georgetown University, University of New Mexico School of Law
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: XochforCongress.com
What is your opinion of justice in policing legislation introduced in Congress recently after protests following George Floyd’s death?
We need criminal justice reform, but defunding police is not the answer. The bipartisan Justice in Policing Act helped address systemic racism by banning chokeholds, mandating body cameras, and improving use of force reporting. Moving forward, we need law enforcement–including those who understand rural policing–to help design and implement these reforms.
What is your opinion of the use of federal law enforcement officers in operations such as Operation Legend in which additional officers were sent to Albuquerque?
I’m committed to protecting Constitutional rights, keeping New Mexicans safe, and supporting local law enforcement. While additional support to fight crime is key, we must make sure this operation is not overbroad in scope and does not take away from other critical assignments, including stopping drugs crossing our border.
What is your opinion of the coronavirus response packages passed by Congress and signed by President Trump? Is there anything you would have done differently?
I was proud to work with Republicans, Democrats, and President Trump to pass the CARES Act. It provided support to rural health care and relief to small businesses. Unfortunately–and despite my efforts–it didn’t directly support local governments or the essential services they provide. I’ll keep pushing for relief, support … to rebuild New Mexico.
What actions to restore the economy, if any, do you feel Congress should take once the outbreak has been contained?
New Mexicans can get back to work through infrastructure investments to improve crumbling roads and bridges, invest in broadband and cellular infrastructure, and stop methane leaks in orphan wells. Small businesses can rebuild with support from the bipartisan HR 777–to streamline PPP loan repayments and help community lenders.
What is your position regarding climate change? What actions should Congress take, if any, regarding the environment?
We need to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement, because we won’t stop climate change if we can’t stop perpetual polluters like China. We should also diversify our energy portfolio, support technology-neutral legislation to spur innovation, invest in energy transmission and storage, and include all partners in building solutions.
What is your opinion on energy initiatives that have been introduced both on the federal and state level such as the Green New Deal and the New Mexico Energy Transition Act?
New Mexicans are already feeling climate change through longer droughts and hotter forest fires. However, we must fight climate change while recognizing that oil and gas is a crucial part of our energy mix. I’ve stood up to my party on energy before, and will continue to do so to build a future that will work for all New Mexicans.
Fracking bans have been introduced in Congress by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren… Where do you stand on the issue?
I oppose a ban on fracking, and disagree with Vice President Biden’s proposal to stop permitting on federal lands. I’m committed to making sure we remain a net energy exporter, and develop a plan that leverages the engineering expertise and knowledge of industry, scientists, and conservationists alike.
What is your position on the leasing of federal land for oil, gas and mineral development? Do you agree with the removal of energy development in a 10-mile radius around Chaco archaeological sites? Are there other areas of the state that should be considered for similar treatment?
I oppose Vice President Biden’s proposed ban on new oil and gas leases on federal lands, but we must also honor our responsibility to protect sacred tribal lands and special sites for future generations. That’s why I was proud to support the protection of Chaco Canyon.
What are the most important actions Congress should take regarding people now living illegally in the U.S.? What about for those who want to come in?
We need strong, smart, and fair fixes for our broken border policies–and a clear and moral immigration system is part of that. That includes enacting the DREAM and Promise Act, establishing a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, and my bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which streamlines the H2A visa process.
Do you believe the borders are secure enough? If not, what do you propose to increase security?
We need strong, smart, and fair border security. It starts with passing my bipartisan Securing America’s Ports Act, to stop drug trafficking by scanning all vehicles entering the US, and my bipartisan Southwest Border Security Technology Improvement Act, so we can deploy the right combination of technology, infrastructure, and agents for each mile of our border.
Do you favor a federal ban on the sale of military style semi-automatic rifles? If so, what would you do about the millions of such weapons now legally owned by American citizens? What other, if any, gun law reforms would you support?
I grew up in a household with guns and hunting is part of my heritage. We can protect our Second Amendment rights and improve gun safety through common sense laws like closing background check loopholes. Additionally, we should bring people together on all sides of this issue to identify other ways to protect communities and responsible gun ownership.
Federal spending plays an important role in New Mexico’s economy. What should be done to increase other economic drivers here?
We can grow our economy by building on our unique asset … investing in ports of entry to boost trade, using our air space to support innovative businesses, and increase tourism through my bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act. It means expanding our energy economy, supporting our farmers, and investing in broadband so businesses have the chance to thrive.
Congress passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Are there any other trade initiatives you’d like to see Congress pass if you’re elected?
I was proud to work with President Trump to pass the USMCA, an improvement on NAFTA. We must ensure its full and proper implementation, particularly around labor standards and dairy producers’ access to markets. We must also stop trade violations by China and expand emerging markets for our farmers.
Do you favor or oppose a national single payer health system?
I do not support the Medicare-for-all proposal. In Congress, I have worked to make health care affordable by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and insurance premiums, improve access by increasing doctors in rural communities, expand telehealth services, and provide relief to rural hospitals and clinics during COVID-19.
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?
Decisions like these should be made between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her faith. Most women faced with a late-term abortion are in the midst of a medical crisis, and medical options should not be limited. Prohibiting the use of tax dollars on abortion procedures means that low-income women … would not have access to life-saving medical procedures.
What should be done at the federal level to address the crisis of opioid addiction? Any other drugs?
The opioid epidemic has touched every community in New Mexico. As we battle COVID-19, we’re also seeing its impact on the mental health of those dealing with unemployment, isolation, pain, and addiction. We must improve access to mental health services and treatment centers, increase telehealth services, and provide realistic alternatives to pain management.
Why do you want to be a member of Congress?
I love representing this diverse district and serving constituents whether they voted for me or not. This job has given me the chance to help build the strong solutions that come from hard work and learning from people with different perspectives. If politics were more like our New Mexican values, I think we’d all be better off.
1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
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.