Central American Asylum Seekers Get Legal Aid, Navajo Nation Leaders Protest Candidate Investigation

Apr 28, 2018

Central American Asylum Seekers Get Legal Aid Near US Border – Associated Press

About 20 volunteer lawyers have given talks about the U.S. asylum process to members of a "caravan" of asylum seeking Central Americans at the Tijuana-San Diego border that President Donald Trump has harshly criticized.

The lawyers on Friday warned the mostly female migrants they could face long separations from their children and lengthy detention if they are granted asylum in the U.S.

The lawyers also talked one-on-one with some of the migrants.

An organizer for the caravan said the migrants were not coached. That possibility has been floated by members of the Trump administration.

About 300 migrants arrived recently in Tijuana in the caravan that set off from southern Mexico in March.

Trump has portrayed them as a threat and evidence of a dysfunctional border.

BLM Adds $1,000 Adoption Checks To Controversial Horse Plans – Associated Press

Federal land managers are again seeking congressional backing to sterilize, euthanize or sell for slaughter tens of thousands of wild horses roaming public lands across the West.

But the Bureau of Land Management has added a new idea for culling overpopulated herds: $1,000 paychecks for those who adopt one.

Overwhelmed by what it calls a $1 billion problem, the agency trotted out the novel approach in a suite of options presented to Congress on Thursday to address the challenges it admits are both "controversial and politically sensitive."

Horse advocates condemned the package of alternatives as "a roadmap for destruction of America's wild free-roaming horses."

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association praised the agency for trying to end a decade-long stalemate in Congress it says has resulted in unhealthy horses, degraded rangeland and program costs that are spiraling out of control.

Ex-Navajo Chapter Official Pleads Guilty To Check Forgery – Associated Press

A former official for the Bahastl'ah Chapter House, formerly known as Twin Lakes, has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $14,000 through check forgery.

Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch says Ronda Leonard pleaded guilty Friday to 32 counts of forgery.

Prosecutors say she abused her position to siphon chapter funds for herself.

Leonard worked as the community service coordinator for the Chapter House east of Window Rock and was one of two people whose signatures were required for checks toward chapter expenses.

Branch says Leonard forged the second signature of the chapter vice president on checks made out to her and her common-law husband.

She also manipulated software and kept other staff from accessing records.

Prosecutors say she illegally forged 32 checks.

She will be sentenced July 24.

New Mexico Governor Visits National Guard Troops At Border – Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez visited National Guard troops deployed to the U.S-Mexico border, praising their work with the Border Patrol as bolstering security for the state.

The Republican governor toured the Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station for several hours Thursday, getting a firsthand look at operations in southern New Mexico.

Martinez says the 61 National Guard troops deployed to the station near El Paso, Texas, volunteered for the border duty. She says the number could rise to about 150.

The troops were deployed earlier this month after President Donald Trump called for up to 4,000 National Guard troops to be deployed along the border.

Martinez says the troops will serve in a supporting role to Border Patrol agents but will not be enforcing federal laws.

Email Reveals Potential Buyer For Navajo Coal-Fired Plant – Associated Press

The potential buyer for the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station has been described as reputable and experienced.

But the identity wasn't known until this week.

Emails shared by a nonprofit research group identify show Illinois-based Middle River Power and its parent company, Avenue Capital Group, are interested in the plant. The latter is a New York-based firm that focuses on distressed companies.

The Navajo Generating Station near Page will close in 2019 without a new owner. Detractors have urged a transition to renewable energy.

The Salt River Project operates the plant and decided to shut it down because natural gas is cheaper.

Spokesman Scott Harrelson said Friday that no one has entered negotiations to buy it. And he says any offer beyond mid-May would take the plant offline at least temporarily.

Navajo Nation Leaders Protest Utah Candidate Investigation – Associated Press

Navajo Nation leaders are protesting a Utah county's investigation into a Navajo candidate's residency, saying it's an attempt to disqualify a native contender after a federal judge decided voting districts discriminated against Navajos.

San Juan County spokeswoman Natalie Callahan countered Friday that the investigation into a citizen complaint questioning whether Democratic candidate Willie Grayeyes lives on the Utah side of the nearby Arizona border isn't related to politics or race.

Callahan says that Grayeyes hasn't yet produced a utility bill or similar documentation of his residency. His lawyers counter that they've sent several documents, including satellite images of the remote Utah home where he's lived for 20 years while voting and holding local leadership positions.

The dust-up comes as largely Republican county leaders appeal to overturn the new voting districts they say are unfair.

Arguments End In Trial Over New Mexico Public Land Access – Associated Press

A New Mexico judge is weighing arguments over public access to prime hunting territory after a several weeklong bench trial in Taos.

White Peak has been the source of legal and administrative fights for decades, as hunters and others have sought access to public land amid an area of wilderness that often requires crossing through private property to access state trust land.

At issue in state district court is whether roads used to access the White Peak area are considered historic roads open to the public or private ranching roads.

Property owner and rancher David Stanley has argued that hunters and other members of the public have trespassed on private property for years to reach trust lands.

Arguments in the trial ended Thursday. Judge Sarah Backus in Taos District Court heard the case.

2 Sentenced In Scheme To Arrange Fraudulent Marriages – Associated Press

Two New Mexico residents have been sentenced on convictions stemming from a scheme to arrange fraudulent marriages to provide foreign nationals with obtain legal immigration status.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says 44-year-old Yi Lee was sentenced to six months in prison and six months of home confinement and fined $10,000 while 31-year-old Santiago Aveles of Las Cruces was sentenced to three years of probation and fined $2,500.

They were sentenced Thursday in federal court in Las Cruces.

According to a 2017 indictment, Lee, Aveles and four co-defendants conspired to obtain immigration status for foreign nationals by having U.S. citizens enter into fraudulent marriages with foreign nationals in exchange for money.

Lee plead guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud while Aveles pleaded guilty to conspiracy and marriage fraud.