Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) wants to chart a middle course on the southern border.
The 34-year-old congresswoman from New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, Torres Small knows this place better than most. She was 9 years old when she first climbed “the Needle” — the highest point in the Organs — scrambling to hoist herself over the rocks as her dad identified plants and insects. She brought her friends to the same mountain range for her 12th birthday, showing them how to ford a river and spelunk a cave. Years later, it was where her husband proposed.
“All these very intimate moments are connected to the land,” she says. Torres Small has amber eyes and curly black hair, glossy from a fresh coat of serum — traits her dad says she inherited from her Native American great-grandmother. “You feel that spirit here.” When talking to Torres Small about border security, there is one particular phrase that comes up a lot: “We need a clear and moral immigration system.”