- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Gov. Susan Martinez spoke out Tuesday against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to build a bigger wall along the southern U.S. border and make Mexico pay for it.

Martinez, the nation’s only Latina governor and a potential Republican vice presidential pick, told the Associated Press that building fences can impact the U.S. economy and relationship with trading partners in Mexico and farther south.

“They are our trading partners,” said Martinez, an American of Mexican descent. “We have a lot of exports that go to Mexico, South America and Central America, and we want to maintain those relationships.”

The chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association confirmed that similar comments were made behind closed doors last week at a Republican gala in New York City, which was attended by Trump, and a Republican Governors Association fundraiser in Florida.

Martinez, a native of El Paso, Texas, said she understands the need for a secure border as a former district attorney in Las Cruces and “having lived on the border for a grand total of 50 years.”

During a 20-minute speech at the New York gala last week, Martinez highlighted an approach to immigration issues based on public safety, and spoke of her cooperation on economic and security issues with the governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Martinez called her differences with the Trump border proposal “nothing new,” though she has not publicly addressed Trump’s pronouncements on immigration for several months.

In July 2015, Martinez objected to Trump’s comments that some Mexican immigrants bring drugs and crime to the U.S. and are rapists.

Martinez has continually brushed off talk of running for higher office, while steering clear of endorsing any of the three remaining GOP presidential candidates. She campaigned briefly this year for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio before he dropped out of the race.

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