Heinrich calls for swift removal of Afghan allies - Albuquerque Journal

Heinrich calls for swift removal of Afghan allies

Sen. Martin Heinrich said at an appearance in Albuquerque last week that it’s time to focus on getting as many U.S. allies out of Afghanistan as possible.

“If that government after 20 years, and tens and tens and tens of billions of dollars, can’t hold Kabul themselves, I think that very clearly, no amount of support from the outside world can make up for that,” the New Mexico Democrat said at the event. “So I think we have to recognize what the reality on the ground is and focus on helping … the civilians and getting people out of the country.”

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was met with chaos as the country’s government quickly fell to the Taliban, bringing a tumultuous end to a 20-year war in the country. Heinrich on Thursday joined a bipartisan group of over 50 senators who wrote to President Joe Biden, asking for the quick removal of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants and their families, as well as a quick implementation of legislation to expand the Afghan visa program, and to improve the application process for those visas.

The senators urged the administration to work to control Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport and take other steps to ensure the safety of American partners in the country.

“I don’t think anyone who’s traveled to Afghanistan, myself included, can say anything positive about the Taliban,” Heinrich said. “But at the same time, we have to recognize the reality on the ground there and deal with it as it is.”

‘WHATEVER THAT IS’: The third time apparently wasn’t the charm.

U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, the lone Republican member of New Mexico’s congressional delegation, has repeatedly written Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in recent months asking for more security at the state’s southern border. In at least two of those letters, Herrell asked the governor to send New Mexico National Guard troops there.

On Wednesday, at an appearance in Roswell before the Chaves County Federated Republican Women, Herrell told the crowd that her letters weren’t positively received by the Democratic governor.

“We’ve written to her three times, and now she calls me a xenophobe, whatever that is,” Herrell said at the event, according to Alex Ross, a Roswell Daily Record reporter in attendance who quoted Herrell on Twitter.

That, in turn, drew this Twitter response from Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for the governor: “Dictionary.com is free to use.”

However, she said in an email that the governor never used the word “xenophobe” to describe the congresswoman.

“That said, it is worth pointing out that the congresswoman’s frequent fact-free tirades against migrants, and the fear-mongering she has attempted to do about immigration, would suggest the description is not unwarranted,” Sackett said.

BTW, a xenophobe is someone who has a dislike or prejudice against people from other countries.

Representatives for Herrell did not respond to questions about the flap.

‘NO’ TO VIRUS TESTS: Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luj á n of New Mexico were among 11 senators who voted against an amendment to a budget resolution that would prohibit migrants from being transported from the border without first testing negative for COVID-19.

Officials for the senators said that the resolution was nonbinding and that the senators cast their votes because such a law could have unintended consequences.

The resolution was introduced by Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and it passed 88-11.

Spokesmen for Heinrich and Luján said the senators have been strong supporters of COVID testing and vaccines, as well as COVID-19 relief packages.

“Sen. Marshall’s non-binding amendment prohibiting transport until after receiving a negative COVID-19 test would have jeopardized the safety of Border Patrol agents, violated the law, and is out of touch with the realities of protecting our southern border,” Aaron Morales, a Heinrich spokesman, said in a statement.

The votes drew a rebuke from the state’s Republican Party.

“Democrats across the country are demanding that citizens be vaccinated, that our kids wear masks and that businesses restrict access to those who are not vaccinated, but they obliquely turn their back on the border policies of the Biden administration,” Steve Pearce, the state Republican Party chairman, said in a statement. “At current rates, more than 2 million people will cross the southern border over the next year, and they will be flown and bused across the country and dumped into communities.”

Ryan Boetel: rboetel@abqjournal.com


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