Senators To Visit Child Detention Facility On Border, Oil And Gas Brings Record Revenues

Jun 20, 2018

New Mexico Senators Plan Visit To Border Detention FacilityAssociated Press

New Mexico's Democratic U.S. Senate delegation plans to travel to the border with Mexico to highlight objections to President Trump's policy of separating immigrant children from parents who are detained while attempting to illegally cross into the U.S.

Sen. Martin Heinrich tweeted Tuesday that he will travel to the border later this week with Sen. Tom Udall to visit the site of a temporary detention facility for children in Tornillo, Texas.

The scheduled trip on Friday also includes stops in Las Cruces and at a border crossing in El Paso, Texas.

Heinrich and Udall are backing a bill that would prohibit family separations near the border except under circumstances such as abuse or neglect.

Many in Congress say Trump could simply reverse the administration's "zero tolerance" policy and keep families together.

New Mexico Pension Liabilities Trigger Credit Downgrade Associated Press

Concerns about New Mexico's pension liabilities and general financial health have prompted a downgrade in the state's credit rating by a major ratings agency.

Moody's Investors Services on Monday reduced the state's bond rating in a move likely to lead to higher borrowing costs.

It cited extremely large liabilities at two major state pension funds for public employees and teachers.

A Moody's analyst says New Mexico's pension pressures are compounded spending demands linked to the state's large enrollment in Medicaid, a lagging state economy and volatile sources of state government income. The state's financial reporting practices are unusually weak.

At the same time, New Mexico state government is experiencing a surge in tax revenue and royalties linked to a rebound in the oil and natural gas sectors.

Navajo Nation President's Daughter, Legal Counsel Resigns Associated Press

The Navajo Nation president's chief legal counsel and daughter has resigned, weeks after she was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

A memo obtained by The Associated Press shows Karis Begaye verbally resigned June 13, ending her political appointment.

President Russell Begaye told the Farmington Daily Times that she followed procedure in entering a rehabilitation program for 30 days then leaving the job.

His office otherwise has declined to comment on the matter and hasn't released requested public records.

Karis Begaye had been on paid administrative leave. She declined comment Tuesday.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety arrested her April 22 after a crash south of Flagstaff. Police records show she had a blood-alcohol content of more than double the legal limit for driving.

No formal charges have been filed.

Republican New Mexico Candidate Faces Reimbursement DelaysAssociated Press

The New Mexico State Board of Finance has rejected an emergency request for funds to reimburse the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Congressman Steve Pearce for legal fees in a dispute over campaign finance rules.

Secretary of State's Office spokesman Joey Keefe said Tuesday that it is unclear when the agency will be able to pay roughly $66,000 it owes to Pearce's campaign under a court-approved settlement.

State prosecutors and campaign finance regulators have agreed to pay most of Pearce's legal expenses after unsuccessfully challenging the candidate's right to transfer money from a federal campaign account to a state account to run for governor. Pearce is owed $134,000 in all.

Pearce campaign spokesman Kevin Sheridan says reimbursement delays are further proof of partisan actions by Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

No Clear Plan Yet On How To Reunite Parents With ChildrenAssociated Press

Trump administration officials say they haven't yet figured out how to reunite the thousands of children separated from their families at the border.

The separations are a result of a zero-tolerance policy adopted in May by the Department of Justice in which anyone caught entering the U.S. illegally is criminally prosecuted.

Homeland Security officials say there are some methods parents can use to try to find their children: hotlines to call and an email address for those seeking information. But advocates say the system is filled with obstacles.

An attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project says some of the adults detained are illiterate and federal representatives won't give any information if a child has been transferred out of a government shelter — including if the child has been deported.

Family Separations At The Border Alarm Child-Welfare Experts Associated Press

Every day, child welfare agencies across America make difficult decisions to separate children from their parents. But experts say those agencies have ways of minimizing the trauma that aren't being employed by the Trump administration at the Mexican border.

Among other things, child-welfare agencies often try to arrange visits between parents and children and keep communication open between them.

Many professionals are worried about what is happening to the more than 2,300 youngsters who have been separated from their parents by the Trump administration.

The experts cite research showing that family separation can cause long-term trauma for children.

New Mexico Diner Sued By Agency For Religious DiscriminationAssociated Press

Federal authorities say the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued a diner in Farmington, New Mexico for subjecting a Muslim woman to religious discrimination by refusing to let her wear a head scarf.

Elizabeth Cadle, director of the agency's five-state district office in Phoenix, said Tuesday the commission sued the Blue Moon Diner for refusing employee Samantha Bandy's request to work while wearing a hijab, a head scarf some Muslim women wear. The commission also alleges Bandy was fired because of her religion.

A man who answered the telephone at the diner said he had no knowledge of the lawsuit and hung up.

The lawsuit asks that Bandy be given back wages and compensatory and punitive damages, and that the diner be permanently banned from engaging in religious discrimination.

New Mexico Oil And Gas Lease Sales Net Record RevenuesAssociated Press

The New Mexico State Land Office has collected nearly $5 million from its most recent oil and gas lease sale, continuing a record-setting pace for the 2018 fiscal year.

State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn said June's sale brings fiscal year earnings-to-date to nearly $107 million, more than the $102 million record set in fiscal year 2012.

Dunn said the banner year comes despite the leasing of fewer acres than in 2012.

The eight bidders that participated in June's sale were interested in parcels in Lea and Roosevelt counties. The highest bidder was Artesia-based Chase Oil.

Revenues from the monthly lease sales help to fund public schools, higher education, hospitals and some infrastructure projects.

Youngest Migrants Held In 'Tender Age' Shelters - By Garance Burke And Martha Mendoza, Associated Press

The influx of child immigrants in response to the Trump administration's zero-tolerance enforcement policy has prompted authorities to open at least three "tender-age" shelters in South Texas.

There are plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move yesterday.

The Associated Press has learned the locations of three child shelters in Texas' Rio Grande Valley. They have been rapidly repurposed to serve needs of children including some under 5. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says the location in his city would house up to 240 children in a warehouse previously used for people displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis.