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Flood Of Immigrants Prompts Quick Releases, Lawsuit Over Clergy Abuse Targets Religious Orders

Laurianne Fiorentino Via Wikimedia Commons
Creative Commons
St. Catherine's Indian School, Santa Fe

Officials Say Flood Of Immigrants Prompting Quick Release Associated Press

The Border Patrol says the number of immigrant families traveling to the U.S. is now so high that the agency is immediately letting some go instead of transferring them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for release.

The situation has forced local governments to help coordinate housing, meals and travel for the immigrants.

The direct release of border crossers by the Border Patrol also means fewer people will have ankle monitors to help ensure they show up to court hearings.

Yuma, Arizona Mayor Douglas Nicholls said the city is working with various non-governmental organizations to make sure the families have temporary housing, food, medical care and help with travel to their intended destinations.

The Border Patrol says it's on track to make 100,000 arrests at the southern border this month, over half of which are families with children.

New Mexico Raises Cap On Annual Rebates For Film Industry Associated Press

New Mexico politicians are banking on more film and television producers bringing their business to the state now that annual tax rebate payouts are doubling.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham visited Albuquerque Studios on Friday to sign the film incentive legislation.

The state is increasing the annual rebate cap from $50 million to $110 million. Other major provisions include one-time spending of up to $225 million to address a backlog of unpaid incentives. The backlog is projected to hit $382 million by the end of the year.

Incentives also will be sweeter for productions centered in rural New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, says producers should know the state wants their creativity and their business. She also mentioned the ripple effect, in which restaurants, hotels and other service industries can benefit.

Marijuana Embraced As Salve In Opioid Crisis Associated Press

An advisory board of physicians has revived its calls for New Mexico to expand medical marijuana access to people struggling with opioid addiction.

The state Medical Cannabis Advisory Board voted 4-0 on Friday to recommend the addition of opioid use disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for access to medical marijuana.

The board's recommendation will weigh in a decision by newly appointed Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned for office last year in support of extending medical marijuana access to patients contending with adverse effects of opioid use.

New Mexico has one of the highest drug overdose death rates in the Western United States, with opioids including heroin listed as a leading cause.

The advisory board separately endorsed medical cannabis treatment for other addiction-related medical diagnosis that could include alcohol, stimulants, hallucinogens and a variety of prescription drugs.

New Mexico Considers Medical Cannabis To Wean Opioid UsersAssociated Press

Proponents of sanctioning medical marijuana use as a tool for treating opioid withdrawal symptoms are making their case to the new administration of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The state's Medical Cannabis Advisory Board was scheduled to hear a petition Friday that would add opioid addiction and other substance-use disorders to the list of qualifying conditions to be a medical marijuana patient.

Lujan Grisham campaigned for office last year as an advocate for issuing medical cannabis cards to people struggling with opioid addiction.

About 70,000 patients are enrolled in New Mexico's medical marijuana program. The program was initiated in 2007 and has grown as the list of qualifying conditions was expanded to include post-traumatic stress disorder and other maladies.

ICE Arrests Man Convicted Of Trespassing At Jenner HomeAssociated Press

U.S. immigration authorities have arrested a Canadian man who has twice been convicted of trespassing at the California home of model and Kardashian family member Kendall Jenner.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday that 38-year-old John Ford was recently arrested in the parking lot of an Albuquerque motel after agents received a tip that he was in New Mexico.

Authorities say Ford has an expired visitor's visa. He remains in federal custody in El Paso, Texas, awaiting a hearing on his immigration case.

It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Los Angeles police have arrested him twice, resulting in misdemeanor convictions and jail time.

Jenner's family thanked Los Angeles police and immigration authorities for their swift response.

New Mexico Forges Ahead With Independent Ethics Commission - Associated Press

New Mexico is moving forward with the creation of an independent ethics commission to investigate complaints about the conduct of public officials, political candidates, lobbyists and government contractors.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday signed legislation to create the commission that underwent dozens of revisions and substitutions as it passed the Legislature earlier this month.

Voters approved the commission concept by statewide ballot last year, leaving lawmakers to assign investigative powers and decide the extent of public access to proceedings.

The commission must go through a district court judge to subpoena documents or witness testimony.

Six commissioners will be appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, and a seventh is appointed by those commissioners.

Complaints are made public 30 days after a probable-cause finding.

New Mexico AG Hector Balderas Says He Won't Seek Senate Seat - Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says he has decided not to run for the state's open U.S. Senate seat in 2020, leaving open the chance for more jockeying among some of the state's top Democratic politicians.

Balderas made the announcement Thursday on radio station KIOT-FM, citing personal and professional reasons.

Balderas says he loves being New Mexico's top prosecutor. He also said he serves as a legal guardian for his 20-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, Arianna, and wants to continue advocating for the special needs community.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced Monday he would not seek a third term.

Religious Orders Targeted In New Mexico Clergy Abuse Case - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

Religious orders once associated with a now-shuttered Catholic boarding school for Native Americans are being accused of failing to protect students from sexual abuse by clergy and faculty.

The lawsuit naming an Ohio-based order of Franciscan Friars and the Pennsylvania-based Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament was filed this week in a New Mexico court by a law firm that has represented dozens of abuse survivors over the years.

The accusations stem from the 1980s while the unnamed plaintiff was a student at St. Catherine's Indian School in Santa Fe.

The religious orders did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The case comes as the Catholic church wrestles with a sex abuse and cover-up scandal that has spanned the globe. New Mexico's largest diocese is among the religious organizations seeking bankruptcy protection as a result.

Defense Attorneys Claim Shooting Of Officer Was Self-Defense - Associated Press

Attorneys for a man accused of killing an Albuquerque police officer say he acted in self-defense after believing his life was in danger.

The trial began Wednesday of 38-year-old Davon Lymon, who is charged with first-degree murder in the October 2015 shooting of Officer Daniel Webster.

Defense attorney Tom Clark told jurors that Lymon thought he heard Webster say that six more officers were on the way to put him "in the ground."

Jurors were shown body camera footage of the encounter that recorded Webster telling Lymon that officers were coming to "put you on the ground."

Prosecutor Kenneth Stalter argued that Webster was killed for doing his job.

He said Webster had his gun drawn as he approached Lymon, but it was holstered when he tried to handcuff him.

City Commission Meeting Cut Short After Gun Resolution Fails - Farmington Daily Times, Associated Press

A city commission meeting in northwest New Mexico was cut short after some attendees became unruly when officials rejected a resolution that would have barred the use of city resources to enforce certain gun laws.

The Farmington Daily Times reports the Aztec City Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday against a resolution declaring Aztec a preservation city for the Second Amendment.

Police ushered commissioners into a side room and asked people to leave after some attendees began hurling insults and demanding a recall election.

Several New Mexico counties and cities have recently made similar declarations in response to gun control measures.

A new law requires mandatory background checks on nearly all firearms sales. A bill that would keep people under protective orders for domestic violence from possessing firearms awaits the governor's signature.

USDA: New Mexico, Arizona Areas Eligible For Drought Loans - Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it has designated 21 counties in New Mexico and four counties in Arizona as primary disaster centers eligible for emergency loans because of drought.

The agency said Thursday that producers in Arizona's Apache, Coconino, Greenlee and Navajo counties suffering drought-related losses may apply.

Twenty-one New Mexico counties are primary natural disaster areas: Bernalillo, Catron, Chaves, Cibola, Colfax, Eddy, Grant, Lincoln, Los Alamos, McKinley, Mora, Otero, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, San Juan, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Sierra, Socorro, Taos and Union.

Producers in the contiguous Arizona counties of Cochise, Gila, Graham, Mohave and Yavapai, along with Colorado's Montezuma; New Mexico's Catron, Cibola, Grant, Hidalgo, McKinley and San Juan counties; and Utah's Kane and San Juan counties also can apply.

The deadline is Nov. 22.

Tribal College Scholarship Program Could Lose Its Funding - KNAU-FM, Associated Press

A federal grant program that provides college scholarships to Native American students reportedly could lose funding.

Flagstaff radio station KNAU reports the Trump administration has proposed defunding the grant program.

The program survived last year's proposed cuts, but it's on the table again this year.

The administration's fiscal year 2020 budget would slash nearly $40 million from tribal scholarship and education programs administered by the Bureau of Indian Education.

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says the budget proposal supports tribal self-determination and improves education services in Indian Country.

But Navajo officials say the federal Higher Education Grant is crucial for thousands of students to attend and graduate from college.

KNAU reports that just over 4 percent of Navajo tribal members have a bachelor's degree.