By U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
Last month I visited the Jewish Community Center in Albuquerque on the same day that it was evacuated because of a bomb threat. This was the JCC’s second bomb threat within three weeks. These alarming incidents in Albuquerque and across the country aim to introduce fear into our communities and must not be tolerated.
During my tour of the JCC in Albuquerque with members of the board, it was clear how beloved and central the facility is to the entire community. JCC’s provide a safe and welcoming environment where families and children – whether Jewish or not – attend Hebrew classes, play sports, share holidays, and gather in peace.
The rising number of bomb threats facing JCC’s nationwide and numerous instances of hate-based violence and vandalism are appalling and do not represent the America I know and love. Any faith-based targeting, including anti-Semitism, is unacceptable—period.
In order to deter and punish those responsible, I introduced bipartisan legislation to double the federal penalty for making fake bomb threats and provide $20 million in additional funding to the Department of Homeland Security dedicated to safeguarding faith-based community centers. I also sent a letter calling on the Senate Homeland Security Committee to conduct a hearing and asked for answers from the Administration about what actions it is taking, and plans to take, to combat these threats.
Federal, state, and local officials must act swiftly to help protect communities of all faiths and ensure that these cowardly threats and acts of vandalism are punished to the fullest extent possible.
I will never waiver when it comes to standing up for all New Mexicans and our fundamental American values and freedoms.