- Associated Press - Sunday, January 29, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has a new diplomatic invitation to visit the United States after canceling a trip to Washington in response to President Donald Trump’s plans to build a border wall - this time from a trio of Democratic lawmakers in the heavily Hispanic state of New Mexico.

Democratic state Rep. Javier Martinez of Albuquerque said Sunday that Trump’s insistence on making Mexico pay for a border wall extension is a threat to centuries-old economic and cultural ties between Mexico and the state of New Mexico, including recent investments by taxpayers in the Santa Teresa-San Jeronimo border crossing that have spurred trade.

Martinez, with state Reps. Bill McCamley of Mesilla Park and Angelica Rubio of Las Cruces, sent a letter Friday inviting Peña Nieto to address the New Mexico House Chamber during the current legislative session.

“If you look at the way Trump has spoken out against the Mexican president, the country of Mexico, his position to build this very expensive wall across the border and then his suggestions that it be paid for with a 20 percent tariff on imports - those are all statements and actions that can only be detrimental to the state of New Mexico,” said Martinez, an attorney and El Paso native who spent part of his childhood in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

There’s no word yet if Mexico’s president will accept the invitation. The decision by Peña Nieto to scrap a planned Jan. 31 meeting with Trump in Washington has boosted the Mexican president’s lagging popularity as he struggles to contain rising crime, a sluggish economy and a series of corruption scandals in his party.

Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has avoided criticizing Trump on his executive action pushing a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

A spokesman for Gov. Martinez said Friday that she “supports strengthening our border and giving the federal government a variety of tools” to protect residents, while declining to comment specifically on the border wall.

The second-term governor - of no relation to Javier Martinez - said last year that building fences could impact the U.S. economy and relationship with trading partners in Mexico and farther south.

Martinez was a vocal critic of Trump during the presidential campaign for his derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants and women.

Trump lost the popular vote in New Mexico to Democrat Hillary Clinton by about 8 percentage points.

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