Immigration was the focus of a public forum between candidates running for New Mexico’s first congressional district Tuesday afternoon.

The debate featured Democratic nominee Deb Haaland, Republican nominee Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian nominee Lloyd Princeton, who was unable to attend and had pre-written answers read by A. Blair Dunn, the Libertarian candidate for New Mexico Attorney General.

Haaland said she supported abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying ICE was “terrorizing families across the country.” She added she was open to discussing alternatives such as changing the laws ICE enforces.

Haaland was the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. She graduated from the University of New Mexico and the UNM School of Law. If elected, Haaland would be the first Native American woman to sit in the House of Representatives.

Arnold-Jones said she supported restricting funds for “sanctuary cities” and cities that don’t cooperate with immigration authorities give “a get-out-of-jail-free card to people who are arrested for crimes.”

Arnold-Jones was a representative in New Mexico’s House of Representatives from 2002 to 2010. She also graduated from UNM in 1974.

Arnold-Jones ran unopposed in the Republican primary, while Haaland won a crowded six-person Democratic primary with 40.6 percent of the vote.

According to a recent poll by Carroll Strategies, Haaland led the race for district 1 with 47 percent. Arnold-Jones was at 42.7 percent, with Princeton in a distant third at 3.6 percent. 6.7 percent of voters were undecided.

Princeton was unable to attend Tuesday’s forum due to a previous commitment in New York, according to Dunn.

The 1st congressional district seat is without an incumbent. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham forfeited her opportunity in the congressional race to run for Governor of New Mexico.

The debate was put on by the Albuquerque Bar Association and moderated by Jason Bousliman, managing attorney at the Weinstein & Riley PS law firm and former president of the Albuquerque Bar Association.

Justin Garcia is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at or on Twitter @Just516garc.