New Mexico senators blast 'heinous' cartoon depicting Dreamers as gang members
© Sean Delonas
New Mexico's senators on Thursday blasted an Albuquerque newspaper over an editorial cartoon they said depicted young immigrants, commonly known as Dreamers, as gang members.
 
 
The cartoon depicts a white man calming his wife during an armed robbery by members of the MS-13 gang. The man in the cartoon says: “Now, honey … I believe they prefer to be called ‘Dreamers’ … or future Democrats.” 
 
“Shame on the @ABQJournal for stooping to a new low and published a heinous and bigoted depiction of Dreamers in today’s paper that serves only to sow division in our community,” Heinrich tweeted on Wednesday.  
Udall tweeted that “words and images are still hateful and offensive, even when they appear in a cartoon.” 
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Heinrich and Udall joined state legislators and Latino immigration groups in calling the cartoon “racist” and “divisive” Thursday in a letter to the editorial board.  
“It plays to the most false and negative stereotype of ‘Dreamers,’ which can only serve to engage extremists,” the letter reads. “Instead of highlighting some middle ground that could fertile for agreement, this cartoon pushes the two sides further into their respective corners.” 
 
The syndicated cartoon by cartoonist Sean Delonas caused a firestorm on social media.
 
It comes amid a debate in Congress over the future of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. So-called Dreamers were protected from deportation under the Obama Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program, which protects about 689,000 young adults, is set to expire on March 5
 
The last census showed that 47 percent of New Mexico’s population is Hispanic, the largest of any state. The editorial page of the Albuquerque Journal, the largest newspaper in the state, has backed proposals to provide a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million Dreamers.
 
 
Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal defended her decision to publish the cartoon, saying she wanted readers to examine an opposing viewpoint. 
 
“I read the cartoon as the muggers being clearly labeled as MS-13, and the conservative Anglo couple – with red tie and red purse, i.e. red state – reacting out of fear and labeling their attackers as ‘Dreamers’ and even Democrats,” Westphal said. “In my mind, it shows that fear and ignorance allow some groups to paint all with a broad brush.”
  
But Journal editor-in-chief Karen Moses issued an apology Thursday
 
“Political cartoons are often satire and poke at more than one point of view. I do not presume to know what cartoonist Sean Delonas was trying to convey in his cartoon that was published in Wednesday’s Albuquerque Journal,” Moses said in the statement. 
 
“But on one level it appeared to us to be poking at President Trump’s rhetoric by portraying a quaking Republican couple who were painting Dreamers with a broad, totally false, brush. Obviously, that was not the message received by many readers.” 
 
Moses said the Journal “does not condone racism or bigotry in any form” and that the opinions expressed in editorials are separate from the newsroom or reporters. 
 
MS-13 is an international gang with ties to El Salvador that Trump has zeroed in on during his crackdown against illegal immigration, frequently citing the a case in which two young girls from New Jersey were killed by the gang. Trump also mentioned the killings in his State of the Union.
 
Democrats have criticized Trump, accusing him of comparing Dreamers to gang members.
 
“MS-13 is an example of some of the worst of criminal gang behavior,” Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle MORE (D-Calif.) said. “To equate that with Dreamers and DACA was completely irresponsible and it was scapegoating and it was fear-mongering and it was wrong.”