Lawmakers Challenge Navajo Water Compact, Catholic Bishops Dismayed With Border Policies

Jun 16, 2018

New Mexico Lawmakers Challenge Navajo Water CompactAssociated Press

Republican New Mexico lawmakers say the state Legislature never signed off on an agreement awarding water rights from the San Juan River to the Navajo Nation.

Ten lawmakers from districts stretching from the northwest of the state to Albuquerque on Friday asked the New Mexico Supreme Court to suspend the water settlement until the Legislature can enact, reject or modify the pact. 

They assert that former Gov. Bill Richardson signed off on the idea without giving the Legislature a say in the matter.

Congress approved the Navajo water rights settlement in 2009 but final approval from the state did not come until 2013. Water districts in New Mexico's San Juan River basin have unsuccessfully opposed it, arguing the resources are not needed for a troubled Navajo irrigation system.

Authorities Search For Curry County Escaped Inmates – Associated Press and Eastern New Mexico News

Authorities are searching for three men who escaped from an eastern New Mexico county lockup.

The Curry County Sheriff's Office says the inmates were last seen walking north from the detention center in Clovis around 11 a.m. Friday. They were wearing white t-shirts, boxer shorts and head coverings.

The inmates were identified as Aaron Clark, who was accused of attempted child abuse and identity fraud; Ricky Sena, who was facing charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and auto theft; and Victor Apodaca, who had been jailed on drug charges.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports the jail has had multiple escapes — 16 between 2002 and 2013, including eight one night in 2008.

More than $11 million in improvements are being made at the jail, a result of concerns about escapes and other security issues.

New Mexico Insurance Pool Refusing To Turn Over Audits – Associated Press and the Albuquerque Journal

A high-risk insurance pool in New Mexico refusing to turn over its annual financial audits to the state Auditor's Office for approval says it does not meet the definition of a state agency.

A contract attorney representing the insurance pool says in a June 4 letter that the pool is a "nonprofit entity made up of private business members."

The Albuquerque Journal reports the attorney later added the pool will post the audits on its website.

About 2,400 New Mexico residents are enrolled in the high-risk insurance pool. Many of people it serves are kidney dialysis patients who are disabled, while others are living in the country illegally and cannot qualify for federally subsidized health insurance.

The insurance pool has come under fire in recent weeks for the political ties of its administrators.

New Mexico Catholic Bishops Dismayed With Border Policies - Associated Press

New Mexico's Catholic bishops have joined other religious leaders in opposing policies that are resulting in immigrant children being separated from their parents after entering the United States illegally.

Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, Las Cruces Bishop Oscar Cantu and Gallup Bishop James Wall issued a statement Friday saying they're also dismayed by the overturning of asylum protections for victims of domestic violence.

Under a "zero tolerance" policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, officials are referring all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution.

Protocol prohibits detaining children because they aren't charged with a crime as their parents are.

Asylum seekers aren't separated from their families, except in specific circumstances — such as if the safety of the children is in question or if the adult is being prosecuted.

2 Mexican Wolves Found Dead In Arizona Last Month – Associated Press

Arizona wildlife managers say two endangered Mexican gray wolves died, bringing the statewide total of dead this year to six.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department said in a news release Friday that the animals were found dead in May. Authorities did not release any details about the circumstances or where the wolves were found.

Their deaths are under investigation.

Each wolf was part of a separate pack located in the east-central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

Efforts to reintroduce the endangered wolves in Arizona and New Mexico have been ongoing for two decades.

New Mexico's Monthly Jobless Rate Trends Downward – Associated Press

There are more jobs in New Mexico than there were last year as the state's unemployment rate showed improvement for the sixth straight month.

State labor officials say the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in May. That's down from 5.4 percent in April and 6.2 percent a year ago.

Nationally, steady hiring has shrunk unemployment to 3.8 percent — the lowest since the 1960s.

While New Mexico still sits among those states with the highest jobless rates, the numbers released Friday show total nonagricultural payroll employment grew 1.7 percent over the past year. Most gains came from the private sector, which was up 13,600 jobs, or 2.1 percent.

The biggest winners include professional and business services — up by 3,800 jobs. Leisure and hospitality as well as mining and construction also saw gains.