Governor marks Hispanic Heritage Month at White House

September 19, 2018

Gov. Susana Martinez traveled to Washington, D.C., for a trip that included a visit to the White House for a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Monday.

New Mexico’s Republican governor, leaving office due to term limits, joined President Donald Trump and others in the East Room for an event during which he touted Hispanic-owned businesses and July’s record low 4.5 percent unemployment rate for Hispanic workers.

“America is winning again and Hispanic-owned businesses are leading the way,” Trump said, with Martinez standing behind him.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and is running for governor, pointedly declined to attend a Hispanic Heritage Month event.

In a letter last week rejecting his invitation, Lujan Grisham blasted Trump’s policies as “harming the Hispanic community.” Among other things, she cited his decision to cancel a program that protected young undocumented immigrants from deportation, openly questioning reported death tolls from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and imposing a “zero tolerance” policy on the border that led to authorities separating migrant children from their families once apprehended.

Martinez was critical of Trump before his election, describing the then-candidate at one point as demonstrating “a pattern of disturbing conduct and offensive rhetoric that raises serious questions about his fitness to be president.”

But she has grown closer to his administration in the last couple years even as polling has found him to be relatively unpopular in New Mexico, which has the highest percentage of Hispanic residents of any state.

Martinez is scheduled to return to New Mexico on Tuesday, according to her office. Her travel is paid for by the state.

Update hourly