Democrats in New Mexico’s congressional delegation this weekend harshly denounced a White House immigration order that temporarily bans refugees and immigrants from entering the U.S.
Even as President Donald Trump’s White House backpedaled from a section of the order that prevented legal green card holders from entering the country, New Mexico’s delegation used words such as “shameful” and “dangerous” to describe the overall decree. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said he was “sickened” by the action, which Trump insisted “is not a Muslim ban.”
On Friday, Trump signed an executive order suspending all immigration from countries with terrorism concerns for 90 days. Countries included in the ban are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, which are all Muslim-majority nations. The move sparked protests across the nation, with hundreds gathering at the Albuquerque Sunport on Sunday.
Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, was the only member of the delegation who hadn’t issued a statement as of Monday morning. I’ve asked his office for reaction and will keep you updated here when I receive it.
Meanwhile, delegation Democrats didn’t hold back.
“President Trump’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant executive order is shameful, and it is an affront to our history and our values,” said Sen. Tom Udall, the dean of the delegation and a former New Mexico attorney general. “Beyond its moral repugnance, I believe there are serious constitutional problems with this new Trump policy. The United States has always led by example on the world stage, unapologetically standing for freedom and human rights. Turning our backs on desperate refugees and essentially imposing a ban on Muslim immigration projects weakness, not strength. This order not only betrays who we are as nation, but it will make us less safe — fueling anti-American sentiment and potentially inspiring violence.”
During a round of Sunday show interviews, Trump’s aides stressed that just a small portion of travelers had been affected by the order. The aides also reversed course and said that citizens of those countries who hold permanent U.S. residency “green cards” will not be barred from re-entering the U.S., as officials had previously said.
“I can’t imagine too many people out there watching this right now think it’s unreasonable to ask a few more questions from someone traveling in and out of Libya and Yemen before being let loose in the United States,” said Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus. “And that’s all this is.”
As of Sunday afternoon, one legal permanent resident had been denied entry to the country as a result of the order, according to a federal law enforcement official. The official was not permitted to discuss the order’s impact publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a statement Sunday, saying he deemed the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest, and absent information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, residency would be a “dispositive factor in our case-by-case determination.”
“Like many New Mexicans, I am sickened by an administration that now poses dangerous threats to the values and freedoms we all cherish,” Heinrich said in a statement. “We are not a nation that turns our back on the innocent victims of terrorism or the allies who risked their own lives so that American soldiers may live. We are not a country that discriminates based on how you pray.
“President Trump’s reckless actions seek to turn us into the kind of authoritarian nation that we have always stood against,” Heinrich added. “This is not greatness, in fact, this is un-American.”
Rep. Ben Ray Luján said the immigration order was “a worrisome, ill-considered and a dangerous move by the president.”
“Our government must rely on accurate, unbiased intelligence, not political gamesmanship or ‘alternative facts’ when making critical security decisions,” Lujan said. “The safety and security of our nation is too important for the President to play political games with the national security mechanisms of the country.”
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a candidate for New Mexico governor in 2018, also condemned the order.
“President Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration jeopardizes our national security and provides ISIS and other terrorists the propaganda they desire to fuel future attacks against the U.S. and our allies,” she said. “The most effective weapon we have against extremists is our American principles of protecting human rights and civil liberties. If the president believes we need to strengthen an already rigorous vetting process for refugees fleeing violence and persecution, I am interested in seeing what he has in mind. But that doesn’t mean we should toss out the entire population of asylum-seekers who do not pose risks to our national security.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.