Gov. Susana Martinez praised President Donald Trump for his compassion during a dinner at the White House to discuss immigration Monday night.
According to a recording of remarks by Trump and the invited governors, Martinez said U.S.-Mexico border problems extend to other states throughout the country, and then added, “I also admire the compassion that you have for the DACAs and the compassion that you’ve expressed for the children who had no choice to come here.”
Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in Sept. 2017.
The program protected about 800,000 people who entered the United States illegally as children, provided they registered with the federal government and did not have run-ins with the law. Since Trump ended the program, it has been the subject of legal wrangling in Congress, which has not passed a fix for the program.
This week, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration was preparing to hold immigrant children on military bases, including those who were separated from their parents by the U.S.
“It is the security of our state and it is the security of our nation,” Martinez said of border security in general during the 12 minutes when reporters were allowed into the meeting. “Because they don’t just enter our state, they move on to the rest of the country. And the states that may not be a border state are being impacted in the same way.”
The New Mexico governor was joined by Republican Govs. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Doug Ducey of Arizona, Phil Bryant of Mississippi and Henry McMaster of South Carolina. Trump administration officials including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen were also at the dinner.
Like Martinez, the other governors also lavished praise on Trump.
“We are thrilled that you and your team are here leading this country,” McMaster said. “We’re standing strong again and we are making America great again, and we appreciate it.”
Ducey praised Secretary Nielsen for visiting the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona.
“What you’ve done is remarkable in the sense of truly drawing attention to the problems in our system,” Hutchinson said. “And focusing on improved border security efforts. So your leadership in terms of being a spokesperson, identifying the problems and challenging Congress to act, is very, very significant.”
In April, Martinez ordered National Guard troops to the border after Trump requested border governors do so. So far, only a few dozen troops have headed to the border to aid Border Patrol, though up to 150 will be deployed.
Clearly, the ice has thawed between Martinez and Trump.
When he announced his candidacy in 2015, Martinez criticized Trump’s statement about Mexican immigrants who crossed the border illegally. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems,” he said at the time, “they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists and some I assume are good people.”
Martinez called these statements “horrible things to say about anyone or any culture… anyone of any ethnicity.”
Trump fired back at a campaign rally in Albuquerque in May of 2016.
“We have to get your governor going,” Trump said. “She’s got to do a better job, OK? Your governor has to do a better job. She’s not doing the job!”