Michelle Lujan Grisham was born on October 24, 1959, in Los Alamos, New Mexico. She earned two post-secondary degrees at the University of New Mexico: a BA in university studies in 1981, and a JD in 1987. After graduating from law school, Grisham spent some time providing legal services for the elderly. In 1991, Democratic Governor Bruce King appointed her to head the New Mexico State Agency on Aging, a post that Grisham went on to hold until 2002. After subsequently serving two years as New Mexico’s Secretary of Aging and Long-Term Services, Grisham in 2004 became the state’s Secretary of Health. Six years later, she was elected Commissioner of Bernalillo County.
In 2012, the voters of New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District elected Grisham to the U.S. House of Representatives, where, as a Democratic member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), she advocated on behalf of “comprehensive immigration reform” that included “a rigorous pathway to earned citizenship” for illegal aliens. Such a measure, she contends, would create thousands of jobs in New Mexico alone while reducing the national debt by nearly $850 billion over a 20-year period.
Grisham is a strong supporter of the DREAM Act, legislation intended to legalize and eventually naturalize a large number of “Dreamers” — i.e. illegal-alien teens and young adults who first came to the United States as minors. By Grisham’s telling, these individuals “have grown up here, contribute to our communities, and are Americans in every way but the paperwork.”
In the summer of 2014, when tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador were illegally flooding across the Mexican border and into a number of southern U.S. states, Grisham attributed the crisis, in part, to the fact that “they can’t get a refugee visa in their countries, because we aren’t paying attention to these Central American and Latin American countries, and … you do that by addressing comprehensive immigration reform.”
After Donald Trump took office as U.S. President in 2017, Grisham condemned Trump’s “anti-immigrant, isolationist agenda” and vowed to “block” his “proposals to attack immigrant communities.”
In January 2017, Grisham and 32 of her fellow congressional Democrats co-sponsored the Safeguarding Sanctuary Cities Act, which aimed to block an executive order by which President Trump had called for federal funds to be withheld from sanctuary cities (where illegal aliens were being protected by local governments that refused to cooperate with federal immigration authorities). By Grisham’s telling, such a measure would “turn neighbor against neighbor,” “undermine the efforts of police departments,” and “devastate city budgets and services.” Two months later, Grisham added her name to a congressional letter informing Trump that his effort to deprive sanctuary cities of federal money was “unconstitutional,” and demanding that he “rescind” that provision of his executive order.
In response to a January 25, 2017 executive order in which President Trump called for the construction of a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, Grisham in February 2017 introduced the Build Bridges Not Walls Act. This bill stated that Trump’s executive order “or any other substantially similar action by the President to use taxpayer dollars or fees to construct a continuous wall or fence between the United States and Mexico shall have no force or effect.”
In May 2017, Grisham was one of 106 House Democrats who called on President Trump to “fully mobilize U.S. government efforts” to “safely resettle Syrian refugees into our country” — notwithstanding the fact that Syria was a war-torn, terrorism-infested nation that had been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism for the past 38 years. Specifically, Grisham and her allies demanded that Trump “immediately rescind” a March 6 executive order by which he had called for a temporary suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
When Trump in September 2017 called for the termination of former President Barack Obama‘s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action — which had conferred temporary protection from deportation upon some 800,000 “Dreamers” — Grisham called it “a betrayal against a group of young people who are the living embodiment of American values.” “Rest assured that I will continue to fight for Dreamers and strongly oppose any enforcement changes that will result in the deportation of DACA recipients,” she added.
Besides the CHC, Rep. Grisham also sat on the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus and the LGBT Equality Caucus, among others. Moreover, she is a distant cousin of New Mexico Congressman (and CHC member) Ben Lujan.
In 2018 Grisham ran for governor of New Mexico. At a campaign event that May, she described President Trump as an individual who was “anti-communities of color,” and she characterized his administration as “racist” and “bigoted.”
That same month, Grisham’s gubernatorial campaign was hit by controversy when Politico.com published a story indicating that the congresswoman had “profited from the state’s use of a high-priced health-insurance program for seriously ill patients, even after Obamacare [had] made such programs virtually obsolete.” For further details regarding this matter, click here.
In November 2018, Grisham won the governor’s election by a margin of 57% to 43% over her Republican opponent, Congressman Steve Pearce.
For an overview of Grisham’s voting record on an array of key issues, click here.
Further Reading: Grisham’s biographies at Votesmart.org, Facebook, and The Atlantic; “Immigration” (LujanGrisham.house.gov); Interview with Grisham (KOAT.com, 9-5-2014); “Quigley Introduces Bill to Safeguard Sanctuary Cities” (by Michelle Lujan Grisham and Mike Quigley, 1-30-2017); “Lujan Grisham Introduces ‘Build Bridges Not Walls Act’” (2-22-2017).