The founder of “Cowboys for Trump” praised the 45th U.S. president while ripping New Mexico’s Democratic governor during a May 17 meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women.
Couy Griffin made national headlines in February when he led a group known as “Cowboys for Trump” on horseback from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington D.C. as a show of support for Trump’s hardline position on border security.
In his 30-minute speech to the Federated Republican Women, Griffin painted Trump — the billionaire real estate developer from Manhattan — as a populist championing the American people and battling an entrenched system at the federal level.
“He is the people’s president,” Griffin said. “He is fighting the good fight at the top, and by God, we better get to fighting at the bottom.”
In his remarks, Griffin — who is chair of the Otero Board of County Commissioners — decried New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for not doing enough to help secure the state’s 175 miles of border with Mexico and deal with the influx of asylum seekers presenting themselves at ports of entry to Customs and Border Patrol agents.
“As we look to Santa Fe and we look to our governor to try to show the people of New Mexico a little bit of leadership and a little bit of support, we are not finding it there,” he said.
Griffin also accused Lujan Grisham of working with the Border Patrol to direct asylum seekers to facilities and communities in New Mexico.
“And the hypocrisy and audacity of them to direct these asylum seekers into our small communities — but yet they will not let them into Santa Fe — is sheer hypocrisy,” he said.
The city of Santa Fe determined earlier this month that it would not be an ideal location for an intake shelter for asylum seekers. Reasons cited in a press release from the city included geographical location and distance from transportation hubs, along with the opening of Expo New Mexico as an intake shelter.
Instead, the city of Santa Fe partnered with the Santa Fe Community Foundation to start a Fund for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, the release stated.
Tripp Stelnicki, communications director for Lujan Grisham, said Wednesday that it is not the state but federal government that is releasing asylum seekers. He said the state has nothing to do with the release of asylum seekers and is merely responding to the federal government’s release of migrants, as are local communities.
“So for anyone to accuse the state of anything of that sort portrays an absolute ignorance of the facts, and would call into question any editorial comments they might make about state leadership,” Stelnicki said.
Griffin also touted the passage of three resolutions by the Board of his Commissioners in Otero County related to asylum seekers and those who live or enter the country illegally.
One of the resolutions states that Otero County does not consider itself a sanctuary county and will enforce all federal immigration laws. Another resolution passed declares a state of emergency regarding closed checkpoints that had been used as border security, before personnel were shifted to help process asylum seekers.
Griffin said that third resolution states that the county will oppose any state or federal agencies that seek to transport asylum seekers into the county.
He added the resolutions were meant to demonstrate to county residents that their tax dollars will not be used to support asylum seekers or those who enter the country illegally.
Griffin also lauded counties who, earlier this year, passed resolutions declaring themselves Second Amendment Sanctuary counties in response to several gun control bills.
Chaves County was one among 28 counties who passed resolutions declaring themselves Second Amendment Sanctuary counties, and that no county personnel, resources or facilities would be used to enforce laws that hindered the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.
Griffin said people will need to make changes at the city, county and local levels, such as many counties did when they adopted resolutions declaring themselves Second Amendment Sanctuary counties.
The resolutions were proposed and adopted during the legislative session when a number of gun safety proposals were debated, including Senate Bill 8 (SB 8).
SB 8, which was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Lujan Grisham, requires federal background checks be conducted for nearly all firearm sales made for a fee or other consideration, including private gun sales.
Guns given as gifts, such as through inheritance and antique weapons would be exempted. The law is set to go into effect July 1.
Griffin said the resolutions that were passed were a way for people to be heard on the local level.
“The Second Amendment Sanctuary county resolution was just bringing representation back to the people and out from underneath the hand of a dictator that we have in Santa Fe, New Mexico right now,” he said.
Stelnicki Wednesday called Griffin’s comments “nonsensical.”
Griffin said he believes that good things are ahead for New Mexico though.
Last year, Democrats coasted to victory in all of New Mexico’s statewide and congressional races and enlarged their majority in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Trump also lost the state by eight points to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Nonetheless, Griffin said he believes the situation on the border, the high crime rates in Santa Fe and backlash to the agenda of lawmakers in the last legislative session, will bring about a conservative revival in the Land of Enchantment that has gone more Democratic in recent years.
“I think our state is going to make a swing to the right like it never has before,” Griffin said.
He said that he recently had a conversation in Albuquerque with a representative from the Republican National Committee and that Trump is eyeing the fact that New Mexico could be competitive in 2020.
Griffin said that he told the representative that while most national political figures who come to New Mexico visit more liberal-leaning Santa Fe, Bernalillo or Dona Ana counties, it is people in places like Otero County where Trump should go, and where he would be more well-received.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.