New Mexico GOP lawmaker met with anti-immigrant hate group to discuss border policy

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Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM) ran on a promise to 'stand for every New Mexican.'

An anti-immigrant hate group is bragging about a recent meeting it had with first-term GOP New Mexico Rep. Yvette Herrell, who had run for office on a promise to stand up for all of her constituents, including migrants.

The Center for Immigration Studies, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, claims to be "an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization" that advocates for "low immigration." It argued in an article published on its website on Oct. 28 that it had seen a dangerous rise in immigrants and drugs at the U.S. southern border under President Joe Biden.

"Rep. Yvette Herrell (R) agrees," wrote author John Wahala, an assistant director of the organization. "In a meeting with her and her staff, we were told that the 2nd congressional district of New Mexico acts as a funnel for illegal crossings and that the flow is growing in intensity and ferocity."

A spokesperson for Herrell did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

But Herrell has previously presented herself as having a nuanced position on immigration.

Her 2020 campaign website noted her support for then-President Donald Trump's failed border wall project and his "efforts to protect Americans" from the dangers of an insecure border.

But she also presented herself as someone who would "stand for every New Mexican," put "people over politics," and back comprehensive immigration reform to protect migrants.

"Congress must take action to fix the immigration system and worker visa program," she wrote. "Migrant workers are important to our agriculture industries, we must ensure these programs are part of a comprehensive solution."

Since taking office, she has continued to present herself as both a critic of Biden's immigration policies and a defender of exploited migrant workers, especially undocumented ones.

The Center for Immigration Studies does not exhibit any such nuance, once even calling guest worker programs for immigrants "a threat to American agriculture."

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated it an "anti-immigrant" hate group since 2016, calling it "the go-to think tank for the anti-immigrant movement" with "a decades-long history of circulating racist writers, while also associating with white nationalists."

The SPLC says:

[W]hat precipitated listing CIS as an anti-immigrant hate group for 2016 was its repeated circulation of white nationalist and antisemitic writers in its weekly newsletter and the commissioning of a policy analyst who had previously been pushed out of the conservative Heritage Foundation for his embrace of racist pseudoscience. These developments, its historical associations, and its record of publishing reports that hype the criminality of immigrants, are why CIS is labeled an anti-immigrant hate group.

Herrell lost her 2018 race for New Mexico's competitive 2nd Congressional District, but came back to win it in 2020.

The state's Democratic-led government has not yet completed it redistricting process for 2022. But even in her current district, Herrell's apparent association with an anti-immigrant group might not play well among her constituents.

According to the Census Bureau, 394,506 of the 705,615 people living in the district that she represents are Hispanic or Latino, or 56% of the population, and 84,091, or 12% of her constituents, are foreign-born immigrants.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.