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FRI: ‘Eerily quiet’ night as Title 42 ends, + More

Travelers cross the Paso del Norte bridge just prior to the expiration of Title 42 on Thursday night.
Corrie Boudreaux
Source NM
Travelers cross the Paso del Norte bridge just prior to the expiration of Title 42 on Thursday night.

‘Eerily quiet’ night as Title 42 ends - By Danielle Prokop, Source New Mexico


GATE 42, CIUDAD JUÁREZ – The wind scatters fine silt from the edge of the Rio Grande, whipping at jackets, and tarps as a few hundred people at the base of the border barrier wait.

Loops of concertina wire curl upon each other, stacked on the embankment alongside the Rio Grande. Members of the Texas National Guard mill between trucks on the other side of a chain-link barrier.

People waited for hours on the U.S. soil, between the Rio Grande and border wall to surrender to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. They wrapped their hair and faces against the biting sand, or shared jackets and blankets against the chill.

Quiet conversations carried on.

Title 42, a measure enacted in the pandemic to deny entry to people seeking asylum, would end the next day, bringing with it uncertainty for people trying to enter the United States. Border authorities will return to Title 8, which restarts the legal process to remove or deport migrants who cross the border into the United States.

Steep consequences accompany the process, including a five-year ban on reentry after expulsion, and possible criminal prosecution for repeated attempts.

Leidy Ramos, 35, left Honduras on foot with her husband and four children after her brother was murdered. She described getting threats from the people who murdered her brother.

“We had to leave the country entirely,” she said, describing that despite multiple moves, there were still threats to her family.

Her oldest child, and two others aged 17 and 13 crossed over to El Paso, and were waiting there for Ramos, her husband and youngest to cross.

Her sole goal was attempting to reunite with her children, she said.

MAY 11, 4 P.M.

DOWNTOWN EL PASO — The streets outside Sacred Heart Church in downtown were quiet. The people in front of the church dwindled to a few dozen. A volunteer opened the door and welcomed about 16 to file inside, telling Source NM that there was more available space.

In addition to the return of Title 8, the Biden administration released new rules, which may deny asylum, that go into effect as Title 42 ends. It now requires migrants traveling through other countries on their way to the U.S. to seek protection there. Otherwise, they’re ineligible. Asylum is a legal form of migration, and requires people to declare in the country they intend to seek protection in.

The Biden administration also promised expanded access to CBP One, an app that allows people to schedule an appointment to seek asylum at a port of entry. The app, released in January, has only been opened for a small number of slots and often crashes.

This was the case for three migrants from Venezuela, who asked not to be identified because of threats they were fleeing.

Jose David Espinoza Escalona, 19, from Venezuela injured his foot in the journey, after it was caught in a train that braked suddenly in Juárez. He crossed, describing a fear of authorities. He surrendered Wednesday after receiving a flyer from CBP, part of an operation to get more voluntary surrenders.

He was released, with a court date six months from now in New York. He wants to go to Los Angeles, and find his cousin and uncle, who he traveled with.

“I was afraid they would send me back. Thank God that didn’t happen,” he said. “I was very happy because at least I get an opportunity, and many have not gotten that.”

MAY 11, 8 P.M.

The feelings of calm were unexpected for Karina Breceda, who runs a shelter for women and children in Juárez called New Wave Feminists Consistent Life Ethic Center.

“It’s eerily quiet to what I expected it to be. We thought this day was going to be chaos,” Breceda said. “It’s unusually calm.”

While capacity at the center allows for over 100 people, only eight women are staying in the shelter, and she’s not receiving any petitions.

“Most of the women decided to turn themselves in. Some were processed. Some of them weren’t,” she said. “The ones staying there are waiting for today, to see what happens to people.”

Breceda, who lives in El Paso, said she’s frustrated with the portrayal of the situation in the national media, pointing to the use of the word “invasion” by Texas officials.

“This is a normal flow of migration,” she said. “That’s not going to stop, and then the pandemic made it so we weren’t processing people. It’s a manufactured backlog.”

Breceda called for more compassion, and resources for helping people enter the country.

“This isn’t the order we would like, but that’s because we’re lacking in humanitarian aid, not in enforcement,” she said.

MAY 11, 10 P.M.

PASO DEL NORTE BRIDGE — The pathways up to the U.S.-Mexico Border over the Rio Grande were nearly empty Thursday night.

More than 30 CBP agents stand across the line on the U.S. side.

Below, next to the river channel, Texas National Guard members sit across from a mural of the Virgin Mary, depicted as a guiding star for migrants. The phrase “the mystery of tears induced by borders” is emblazoned above her.

Breceda, the shelter director, helped paint that mural last fall.

Just after 9:30 p.m. agents expelled about 30 people over the bridge and into Mexico.

Minutes before the 10 o’clock expiration of Title 42, two families approach the border.

Olga Berenice, 22, her two children and sister Roxanna, 20, were the first in line Thursday night. They were already asylees, Roxanna said, after the murders of two of their brothers in 2019. They returned to Juárez for the funeral of Olga Bernice’s husband. Their parents live in Chaparral, New Mexico.

A customs agent told Berenice in Spanish that her asylum may be invalidated because she returned to Juárez for a funeral. But agents let the families pass.

Customs agents at the port of entry told reporters they did not know what would happen with the case.

Just before the policy expired, immigration advocates represented by the American Civil Liberties Union sued the administration in a California federal court over the new policy restricting access to asylum.

MAY 11, 11:40 P.M.

GATE 42, CIUDAD JUÁREZ — Several hundred people gathered at the gate.

Portable toilets were added, and the area was entirely fenced off by a concertina wire barrier.

Texas National Guard members stood alongside the edge in pairs. Whoops and cheers accompanied buses that pulled up to the gate, as families lined up and were escorted in lines by Border Patrol.

Just after midnight, a Peruvian family of five waded the river.

National Guardsmen told them they could not enter there and were pointed to the Zaragoza Bridge or the Cordova Bridge, both of which are miles away from Gate 42.

A woman and another child inside the barrier, left and joined the family.

The parents carried their children, crying, and headed east, towards the lights.

Asylum officers rushing migrants through screenings, advocates say - By Austin Fisher, Source New Mexico

With the end of the federal migration policy known as Title 42 on Thursday night, advocates along the U.S.-Mexico border expect it to become even harder for migrants to seek protection from persecution, violence and torture in their home countries.

What will take its place, advocates say, will still be like an asylum ban — even if it’s not being named outright.

Margaret Cargioli, directing attorney at Immigrant Defenders Law Center, told reporters on Thursday she is glad to see the harmful, xenophobic and racist policy end.

“But unfortunately, it is being replaced with restrictive and harsh policies that are going to make it very difficult for asylum seekers to be able to have a fair chance at seeking asylum in the United States,” Cargioli said.

Though Title 42 is gone, migrants are still subject to what’s called “expedited removal,” which means people can be fast-tracked and deported.

Instead, migrants will speak to asylum officers with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services who figure out whether they have any chance of successfully presenting a claim.

Now, advocates say, many will be forced to make their asylum claims while in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol, within days of being apprehended at the border.

Expedited removal subverts due process, “sacrificing protection in the name of speed,” said Zoe Bowman, senior attorney in the defense and deportation program in El Paso and New Mexico at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center.


To better understand what is happening to asylum seekers at the border, it’s helpful to look 200 miles north, at an ICE prison in Torrance County, New Mexico.

By the end of last year, there were nearly zero people being held inside the Torrance County Detention Center in Estancia. Then, ICE started transferring people there from other prisons in the El Paso sector, 100 at a time.

The New Mexico Immigrant Law Center regularly visits Torrance to inform migrants about their rights, what to expect in ICE detention, what asylum is, and how to get released.

On Jan. 27, the attorneys arrived at the prison expecting only 100 people to attend. Instead, there were 300 people packed into a room asking for help.

Out of the 134 people who had been through a credible fear interview at that point, only 13% of them passed, which is much lower than the nationwide rate of 56%, said Sophia Genovese, a managing attorney at the Immigrant Law Center.

“People are being denied due process. They’re being denied fair credible fear screenings, and they’re being pushed through this rapidly so that they are deported as quickly as possible,” she said.

The Immigrant Law Center has since January continued to document people inside Torrance being pushed through their credible fear interviews very quickly, she said.

“Torrance’s credible fear interview process is riddled with legal and procedural errors,” Bowman said. “It operates within a xenophobic framework intended as a means of deporting vulnerable asylum-seeking communities as quickly as possible.”

Migrants aren’t receiving legal orientation before their interviews, Genovese said, which are happening sometimes two to three days after they are transferred there.

People can have legal counsel during a credible fear interview, however, it is rare because the interviews are happening so rapidly, Genovese said.

“While the government process has been opaque as to how this will operate, it seems clear that people in CBP custody will not have any meaningful access to counsel or information about decisions made in their cases,” Bowman said. “In sum, just as policies are getting more complicated and burdensome, access to counsel and due process is decreasing for non-citizens in both ICE and CBP custody.”


Genovese and Bowman anticipate the same thing happening inside Torrance will be expanded to the border.

Advocates and legal experts said this week asylum officers with Citizenship and Immigration Services will be conducting credible fear interviews in large tents called “soft-sided border processing facilities” run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The unreliable CBP One cellphone application — migrants were encouraged to use the app to apply for asylum — has very serious problems, Cargioli said, including glitches and error messages, along with only being available in Spanish and Creole.

Because of barriers like CBP One, Genovese predicted that people will enter between ports of entry, and when they’re apprehended, and they will either be immediately expelled or they will do a credible fear interview.

Immigration police will be incarcerating more people as a result of Title 42’s expiration, the head of the local ICE field office told the El Paso Times on May 5.

“We are expecting that with the end of Title 42 those requirements are going to change, and we do anticipate going to closer to 100% capacity,” Mary De Anda-Ybarra told the newspaper.

With the sheer number of people authorities will now process at the border — and with so few asylum officers — there is pressure to complete these interviews quickly, Genovese said, and there could be mistakes.

“What’s going to result is hundreds, thousands of people erroneously being denied credible fear determinations, despite very clear eligibility for asylum,” she said.


If a migrant does pass their credible fear interview, they get the chance to go to immigration court to present their asylum claim to a judge. Asylum officers are supposed to approve someone to continue the process if there’s even a 10% chance that person will ultimately qualify for asylum.

If they fail, they can ask an immigration judge to review the officer’s decision. However, it’s very hard to overturn the determination.

Someone in ICE custody at Torrance or at the Cibola County Correctional Facility in Chaparral will be routed to the El Paso Immigration Court. Those held at the Otero County Correctional Facility go to a court inside that prison.

A review by an immigration judge “is not beneficial for the vast majority of asylum seekers,” Genovese said.

In her experience, especially when a migrant does not have legal representation, immigration judges “summarily affirm” asylum officers’ decisions and don’t even talk to the majority of the migrants who enter their courtrooms.

“It’s their right, but it’s not something that I see the judges in El Paso or Otero taking seriously,” she said.

The National Association of Immigration Judges did not respond to a written request for comment.


The situation underscores how the Biden administration is deporting people instead of providing them with safety, Genovese said.

The new asylum rule that went into effect Thursday night denies asylum to migrants who do not ask for it in a third country before arriving at the border.

Those migrants may be considered for “withholding of removal” relief, or relief under the Convention Against Torture, Cargioli said. However, those kinds of relief require people to meet much higher eligibility standards, and do not have as many benefits as asylum, she said.

“It’s frustrating on a humanitarian level, but on a practical level, it’s going to do nothing but create more chaos,” Genovese said. “People are still afraid to go to their home countries.”

Some may try to stay in Mexico, Genovese said, but migrants are very vulnerable to violence, and often struggle to find work.

It takes a tremendous amount of resources to do immigration enforcement along the border, Genovese said.

“What takes fewer resources is holistic services, providing people the support they need to integrate into the United States, and provide people with basic legal information, so they have all the tools they need to navigate the asylum system,” Genovese said. “But we’re not doing that, and so it’s just going to continue to be a huge mess.”

New Mexico regulators grilled over oilfield spills, lack of enforcement - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

Environmentalists who had praised the approval of rules adopted by New Mexico nearly two years ago to crack down on oilfield spills have alleged the state isn't doing enough to enforce the provisions.

They criticized the Oil Conservation Division during a meeting Thursday, pointing to a 16% increase in spills of wastewater from the drilling process and other contaminants in 2022. They said the division issued only eight notices of violations of its water rules last year.

The increase in spills comes amid an oil and gas boom in the Permian Basin, which spans parts of southeastern New Mexico and West Texas. Production on the New Mexico side has resulted in the state becoming the No. 2 oil producer in the U.S.

The environmentalists told members of a commission that oversees the New Mexico agency that there appears to be few consequences for companies that violate pollution rules and no accountability for the lack of enforcement.

"If the aim is operator compliance, clearly what OCD is doing isn't working because the problem is getting worse," Melissa Troutman with the group WildEarth Guardians told the commission. "This is, of course, not the result we expected after creating strong rules, which were meant to decrease spills, not increase them."

The agency provided the update on compliance and enforcement in response to questions from the environmental groups. Officials told the commission they conducted about 31,000 inspections last year and issued 74 notices in all for water rule violations, environmental hazards, operational issues, reporting violations and unplugged inactive wells.

The notices and enforcement actions taken over the last year seek more than $11 million in civil penalties, according to division data.

As a result of inspections done in 2022, the division issued 2,561 field compliance notices, and oil and gas operators took actions to address more than two-thirds of those.

Despite the notices, environmentalists said the consequences aren't enough to dissuade repeat offenders. They also said operators have discretion when reporting, meaning state regulators don't always know what or how much has been spilled.

An email message seeking comment from the state agency was not returned Friday. Officials said during Thursday's meeting that the division is working on improving reporting that will show the status of investigations and what actions are being taken by operators to come into compliance.

Environmentalists challenged New Mexico in court earlier this week, alleging that the state was failing to meet its constitutional duties to prevent air and water pollution. Those at Thursday's meeting cited the lack of penalties being issued by oil regulators as an example.

Earlier this year, federal regulators leveled millions of dollars in fines against two producers working in the basin for emissions violations. Those sanctions came after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used a special infrared camera to detect emissions of hydrocarbon vapors.

Pandemic-related asylum restrictions known as Title 42 expire, straining US immigration system - By Valerie Gonzalez, Elliot Spagat And Giovanna Dell'orto Associated Press

As pandemic-era asylum restrictions ended early Friday, migrants in northern Mexico faced more uncertainties about a new online system for appointments to seek asylum in the U.S. Some migrants still waded apprehensively into the Rio Grande, defying officials who shouted for them to turn back, while elsewhere along the U.S.-Mexico border people hunched over cell phones trying to access an appointment app that may change their future.

President Joe Biden's administration introduced the new asylum rules in a bid to get asylum-seekers to stop coming across the border illegally by reviving and sharpening pre-pandemic penalties and creating new legal pathways to asylum that aim to cut out unscrupulous smugglers.

The transition to the new system unfolded in the night amid legal challenges and last-ditch efforts by migrants to cross a border fortified with barbed wire and troops.

A federal judge in Florida dealt a potentially serious legal setback to the plan by temporarily blocking the administration's attempt to release migrants more quickly when Border Patrol holding stations are full.

At Matamoros, Mexico, across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, migrant families — with some parents holding children — hesitated only briefly as the deadline passed before entering the waters of the Rio Grande, clutching cell phones above the water to light the way toward the U.S.

U.S. authorities shouted for the migrants to turn back.

"Be careful with the children," an official shouted through a megaphone. "It is especially dangerous for the children."

Separately, at an outdoor encampment of migrants beside a border bridge in Ciudad Juárez, across from El Paso, Texas, cell phones were alight as migrants attempted to book an asylum appointment online through an app administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"There's no other way to get in," said Venezuelan Carolina Ortiz, accompanied by her husband and children, ages 1 and 4. Others in the camp had the same plan: keep trying the app.

The expired rule, known as Title 42, was in place since March 2020. It allowed border officials to quickly return asylum seekers back over the border on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

While Title 42 prevented many from seeking asylum, it carried no legal consequences, encouraging repeat attempts. After Thursday, migrants face being barred from entering the U.S. for five years and possible criminal prosecution.

At the U.S. border with Tijuana, as Title 42 expired, there was no visible reaction among hundreds of migrants who were in U.S. custody between two border walls, many of them for days with little food. They slept on the ground under bright lights in cool spring air. Shelters across Tijuana were filled with an estimated 6,000 migrants.

It was not clear how many migrants were on the move or how long the surge might last. By Thursday evening, the flow seemed to be slowing in some locations, but it was not clear why, or whether crossings would increase again.

A U.S. official reported the Border Patrol stopped some 10,000 migrants on Tuesday — nearly twice the average daily level from March and only slightly below the 11,000 figure that authorities have said is the upper limit of what they expect after Title 42 ends.

More than 27,000 people were in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody, the official said.

"Our buses are full. Our planes are full," said Pedro Cardenas, a city commissioner in Brownsville, as recent arrivals headed to locations across the U.S.

The administration hopes that a new system will be more orderly, and will help some migrants to seek asylum in Canada or Spain instead of the U.S. But Biden has conceded the border will be chaotic for a while. Immigrant advocacy groups have threatened legal action, and migrants fleeing poverty, gangs and persecution in their homelands are still desperate to reach U.S. soil at any cost.

Holding facilities along the border already were far beyond capacity. But late Thursday, U.S. District Judge T. Kent Wetherell, an appointee of President Donald Trump, halted the administration's plan to begin releasing migrants with notices to report to an immigration office in 60 days when holding centers reach 125% capacity, or where people are held an average of 60 hours. The quick releases were to also be triggered when authorities stop 7,000 migrants along the border in a day.

In a statement, Customs and Border Protection said it would comply with the court order, while calling it a "harmful ruling that will result in unsafe overcrowding ... and undercut our ability to efficiently process and remove migrants."

Weatherell blocked the releases for two weeks and scheduled a May 19 hearing on whether to extend his order.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had already warned of more crowded Border Patrol facilities to come.

"I cannot overstate the strain on our personnel and our facilities," he told reporters Thursday.

On Wednesday, Homeland Security announced a rule to make it extremely difficult for anyone who travels through another country or who did not apply online to qualify for asylum, with few exceptions. It also introduced curfews with GPS tracking for families released in the U.S. before initial asylum screenings.

Minutes before the new rule took effect, advocacy groups sued to block it.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco by the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies and other groups, alleges the Biden administration "doubled down" on a policy proposed by President Donald Trump that the same court rejected. The Biden administration has said its new rule is substantially different.

The administration also said it is beefing up the removal of migrants found unqualified to stay in the U.S. on flights like those that sent nearly 400 migrants home to Guatemala from the U.S. on Thursday.

Among them was Sheidi Mazariegos, 26, who arrived with her 4-year-old son just eight days after being detained near Brownsville.

"I heard on the news that there was an opportunity to enter, I heard it on the radio, but it was all a lie," she said. Smugglers got her to Matamoros and put the two on a raft. They were quickly apprehended by Border Patrol agents.

Mazariegos said she made the trek because she is poor and hoped to reunite with her sisters living in the U.S.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador noted an uptick in smugglers at his country's southern border offering to take people to the United States, and said they were telling migrants the U.S. border was open.

At the same time, the administration has introduced expansive new legal pathways into the U.S.

Up to 30,000 people a month from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela can enter if they apply online with a financial sponsor and enter through an airport. Processing centers are opening in Guatemala, Colombia and elsewhere. Up to 1,000 can enter daily though land crossings with Mexico if they snag an appointment on an online app.

At shelters in northern Mexico, many migrants chose not to rush to the border and waited for existing asylum appointments or hopes of reserving one online.

At the Ágape Misión Mundial shelter in Tijuana, hundreds of migrants bided their time. Daisy Bucia, 37, and her 15-year-old daughter arrived at the shelter over three months ago from Mexico's Michoacán state fleeing death threats, and have an asylum appointment Saturday in California.

Bucia read on social media that pandemic-era restrictions were ending at the U.S.-Mexico border, but wasn't sure if it was true and preferred to cross with certainty later.

"What people want more than anything is to confuse you," Bucia said.

Free meals for K-12 students proposed in Congress - Megan Taros, Source New Mexico 

As the start of the next school year approaches, schools in New Mexico are preparing to hand out free meals to all students after the Legislature unanimously passed a bill that would ensure all students have access to food in school, joining four other states in making universal meals a permanent policy.

About three-quarters of all students in New Mexico qualified for free and reduced lunch before the law passed in a state that also sees the highest percentage of food stamp usage in the country – a dismal picture of a lack of food security in the state.

New Mexico’s senior senator Martin Heinrich joined fellow Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), as well as U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) to introduce a bill that would bring universal meals to all public schools in the U.S.

The bill comes at a catalyzing moment for universal meals as two states recently passed such measures in their legislatures, and a third, in North Dakota, narrowly failed on a party-line vote.

Prior to the push for universal school meals, participation in the free and reduced school meal program more than doubled between 2014 and 2018 nationwide, according to a release from Heinrich’s office. The pandemic exacerbated food insecurity with many schools participating in free meal distribution for all families and kids to keep students fed and help maintain their focus in school. track.

COVID-19 protections and policies have mostly ended, so Heinrich’s office said it wants to support the success of free meals.

“We know that when children are hungry, it impacts everything, including their ability to focus and learn in the classroom. No child should go hungry — especially not in the richest nation on Earth,” said Heinrich, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing USDA nutrition programs.

Jennifer Ramo agrees. She is the director of New Mexico Appleseed, a group working to address poverty in the state.

“One of the best tools out there to get children’s bodies and brains ready to learn is free school meals,” Ramo said. “It gives them the nutrition they need and takes the worry away of having to pay for those meals

Heinrich’s office said it would likely fund the effort through mandatory funding that already exists for school meals, but using infrastructure investment money is not out of the question.

Supporters of the bill, like New Mexico Appleseed, say the legislation is a “humanitarian necessity.”

Ramo sees the opportunity right now to leverage “federal educational investments otherwise lost to children who are too hungry to focus.”

If passed, the bill stands to save New Mexico $40 million annually, the amount allotted for the state’s universal meals program.

Similar to New Mexico’s law,, the Universal School Meals Program Act would incentivize schools and districts to partner with local vendors to bring in nutritious food.

The federal bill would give schools a 30 cent incentive per meal.

Heinrich’s office said that small businesses did not express concern during the outreach process of being at a disadvantage compared to larger ones. The New Mexico Public Education Department said it’s “not uncommon” for very small businesses to partner with local schools.

Local advocates hope the incentives can bolster low-income communities economically by bringing new opportunities to neighborhood businesses.

“Many of our local business owners have kids in school,” said Miguel Acosta, co-director of Earth Care, which primarily focuses on the environment and equity in Santa Fe’s Southside. “When they are successful, then their kids are successful. It creates levels.”

In New Mexico, a business can become a part of the New Mexico Grown Program, the pipeline between local businesses and schools, at any time by participating in the Approved Supplier Program, a food quality and safety program requisite.

Economic fallout from the pandemic and new hardships continue to strain families. Inflation remains high and many saw their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits slashed. Parents told Source NM that their food stamps only cover half of what they’re used to.

“Not even Walmart is affordable anymore,” said Gladys Recinos, a parent in the Southside of Santa Fe.

Meanwhile, donations are slumping at food banks, which are also being affected by high food costs, demand remains high and COVID-19 infection is hampering the number of volunteers they have on hand.

“When food costs are so high, that dollar isn’t stretching anymore,” said Sherry Hooper, executive director of the Food Depot in Santa Fe. “We are feeling the challenge and it’s impeding our ability to help because we’re also paying such high prices.”

New Mexico wildfire reignites residents' fears, frustrations from record-setting fire in 2022 - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

The thick plume of smoke rising up from the forested hillsides sent a tinge of panic through northern New Mexico. It was dry and and windy — just like last year.

It was April 2022 that a record-setting wildfire sparked by the federal government had ripped across more than 530 square miles (1,373 square kilometers), destroying hundreds of homes and livelihoods along the way.

And now, firefighters were racing again to catch a new blaze.

This one started Wednesday afternoon on private property near the burn scar left by last year's historic wildfire and had grown to an estimated 1,000 acres (405 hectares) by nightfall. Fire managers were hoping to get an updated estimate Thursday night.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Nervous residents posted photos on social media showing the plume of smoke, as seen from their front porches. Others choked back tears as they left the area in their vehicles, capturing photos and videos of trees along the roadside and homes in the distance engulfed in fire.

Many questioned how there was anything left to burn.

"People are still recovering from last year. A lot of these people who are getting evacuated right now were also evacuated last year, so it's a very difficult time for them," said Matthew Garcia, a fire information officer with the State Forestry Division.

Among them was Rita Childers, a retiree from Manuelitas. She spent the night in the community of Las Vegas about 15 miles (24 kilometers) away after being told to leave her home Wednesday as the fire grew.

Childers told the Albuquerque Journal that she spotted big plumes of black smoke while returning from a walk.

"At first I was like, 'No, not again. I can't believe this is happening,'" Childers said.

Crews on Thursday worked to keep the flames from reaching more homes while many of those who live in the small communities that are scattered throughout the mountains remained evacuated. Children were excused from school, roads in the area remained closed and neighboring communities opened temporary shelters.

"State, local and federal resources are responding and fire managers have implemented a full suppression strategy," George Ducker, a spokesperson with the State Forestry Division, said in an update issued Thursday.

Forecasters called for another round of wind and red flag conditions through the evening.

Two elite firefighting crews were getting help Thursday from other hand crews, bulldozers, engines and a helicopter. Officials said more resources that could mount an attack from the air were on order.

Ducker said emergency responders were on the ground assessing damage and trying to tally how many homes and other structures had burned.

While above-average snowpack in the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountain foothills have helped, forecasters say the region is still feeling the effects of a long-term drought — and that there were many pockets of unburned fuel left within the footprint of last year's Hermit's Peak-Calf Canyon Fire.

That fire — the largest in New Mexico's recorded history — started on national forest land when two prescribed burn operations went awry, fueled by relentless spring winds. Private landowners had far more acres burned, with the majority seeing moderate burn levels.

While wildfires are a necessary part of many forest ecosystems, experts with the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute have said that the scale of damage from the 2022 fire will leave its mark on the area for decades.

It also has left an emotional mark on residents whose families have ties to this landscape going back generations. Many were praying Thursday that the flames could be corralled soon.

Higher humidity levels — and possibly some rain — predicted for the area Saturday would likely help, Garcia said.

Nationally, the fire season is off to a slower start, with about one-third the number of acres burning compared to this same time last year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Thousands surrender to Border Patrol as Title 42 ends - By Danielle Prokop, Source New Mexico Under the shadow of Gate 42, Elizabeth Ramirez repeated “I didn’t want it to be like this,” as she crossed over the Rio Grande, low and sluggish over algae.

She was one of a group of two dozen people surrendering to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol on Wednesday. The people crossing would say where they were from – Colombia, Peru, Venezuela – children waved, people threw thumbs up or made hearts with their hands to the cameras and members of the media.

Ramirez walked nearly last, crying. She said that coming to the U.S. was a shared dream, between herself and her 13-year old daughter. She told reporters that her daughter was killed in Hermosillo, Sonora, where Ramirez was from.

“I’m holding her right here,” she said, carrying her daughter’s ashes in a bag to the bus waiting below the embankment.

Ramirez is one of the thousands of people to surrender to the border patrol in recent days, as a massive shift in immigration policy looms on the U.S. Southern border.

Title 42, a policy enacted in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, ends midnight Eastern time on May 11, expiring with the federal emergency order. It refers to a section in a 1994 public health law that allows curbing migration in the name of public health. Initially ordered under the Trump administration, it continued under President Biden.

The policy allowed authorities to immediately expel people seeking asylum at the border into Mexico, or to their country of origin, billing it as a way to limit the spread of the coronavirus. National medical experts joined with human rights groups to object to the policy, saying it has no basis in public health.

Over three years, authorities expelled people more than 2.8 million times. Unaccompanied children were exempt from the rule.

After the policy expires, the U.S. returns to federal immigration code Title 8, which restarts the legal processes to remove or deport people from the United States for entering the country illegally. Seeking asylum, like what Ramirez others are attempting, in the United States is a legal method of entering the country.

Customs and Border Patrol Agent Fidel Baca called the return to Title 8 a return to normalcy.

“We’ll be seeing an implementation of consequences for entering illegally,” he said. The consequences can be steep including a five-year ban on reentry and the possibility for prosecution for repeated attempts.

CBP agents at Gate 42 estimated that between 1,500 to 2,000 people were expected to enter Wednesday. More than 300 people were waiting to turn themselves into border patrol agents at 6:30 a.m.

Thousands of people have been sleeping on the streets of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez in recent weeks. In that time, people have been making the crossing. Tensions are high between migrants and authorities after a detention center fire in Juárez caused the deaths of 40 people left behind locked doors by guards.

Area shelters have been serving higher numbers of people since August 2022, organizers said, and that they’re focused on maintaining day-to-day operations

“We are just trying to keep our shelter open and care for people,” Father Rafael Garcia told Source NM in a sidewalk interview before the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

The city announced a plan last week to open temporary shelters at vacant schools. Three Texas border cities – El Paso, along with Brownsville and Laredo – declared a state of emergency in the lead up to Title 42’s expiration.


Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima said local groups and officials made policy changes around people entering the country after hundreds of people were essentially stranded in towns near the border.

In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security dropped off more than 1,000 people and the city was partially involved in sheltering them. Now that responsibility lies with local nonprofits, he said such as El Calavario United Methodist Church or Border Servant Corps.

“For the most part, they have replaced the city and the county in taking care of migrants,” Miyagishima said.

A lot has changed in intervening years, said El Calavario Pastor George Miller in a phone interview, saying that people from all over the world, not just Central and South America, need accommodations.

He said the nonprofit now receives some reimbursement for shelter and food from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and appliances from parent organization Church World Services, rather than purely through donations.

El Calavario allows people to stay overnight and for two days, offers food, clothing and arrangements for transportation to meet with family or other sponsors. Staff includes legal advisor and a social worker.

The capacity for the shelter is 50 to 60 people a day, five days a week. While the numbers fluctuate, the past week immigration authorities brought five busloads, totaling about 250 people.

“Everybody is anticipating that we are going to probably be at full capacity for over the next month or two,” Miller said.

Border Servant Corps did not respond to requests for comment.

Local nonprofits are not driving the emergency plan, said Stephen Lopez, the emergency manager for Doña Ana and Las Cruces.

Since he said the shelters in Las Cruces are voluntarily receiving people, and El Paso has more capacity, there’s no need to enact emergency measures, which could include building a temporary shelter at the Doña Ana fairgrounds.

“Right now, there are no indicators that the capacity for processing in El Paso will be overwhelmed,” Lopez said.

Lopez said he is in contact sometimes daily or weekly with emergency officials in El Paso, and federal agencies.

El Paso officials at the Office of Emergency Management did not respond to requests for comment.

The federal government made assurances in recent meetings that people were not just going to be dropped off in area cities, such as Deming or Las Cruces, said Doña Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart.

Stewart echoed the sentiment that El Paso nonprofits are expected to provide the services to people crossing the border.

“We believe the NGO setup in El Paso will handle this quite well,” Stewart said.

Chama under boil water advisory By Nash Jones, KUNM News

The New Mexico Environment Department announced yesterday [THURS] that Rio Arriba County’s Chama Water System is under a boil water advisory.

The agency says the water system notified the state Wednesday that its water was cloudier than standards allow — what’s called “turbidity” [tur-BID-ity] The system was then required to issue the advisory and notify its more than 15-hundred customers. No surrounding systems are impacted by the advisory.

The Environment Department says turbidity is a gauge for the quality of water and its filtration. It can also provide an environment for microbes to grow.

While no contamination of the water has yet been confirmed, the agency says haziness like this can mean there’s organisms like bacteria, viruses or parasites in it.

It’s recommended that users of the Chama Water System boil their water for three minutes before ingesting it — including by making ice or washing food — or using it to brush their teeth. It should also be boiled before pets are allowed to drink it.

State ends daily monitoring of COVID-19 data – Santa Fe New Mexican, Santa Fe Reporter

As of Thursday, the State of New Mexico is stopping daily reporting of data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and test results.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the decision coincides with the end of the federal pandemic emergency. The New Mexico Department of Health will still monitor trends in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths week-by-week.

The state is also shutting down NM Notify, its COVID exposure alert system. The app allowed New Mexicans to receive notifications if they had sufficient exposure to COVID-19 to become infected.

Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Laura Parajon [para-HONE] said the end of the public health emergency signals a shift to a new phase of COVID-19. DOH recommends people stay up to date on flu and COVID vaccinations, get tested if you have COVID symptoms, stay home if you or your child are sick and wash your hands frequently.

On Wednesday, the state reported 139 new COVID cases, 75 hospitalizations and five people on ventilators, according to the Santa Fe Reporter. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has lost more than 9,200 people to COVID-19.

New Mexico woman accused in January death of her newborn son, who was found in a hospital trash can - Associated Press

A New Mexico woman has been charged with first-degree murder in the January death of her newborn son, whose body authorities said she placed in a trash can.

Alexee Trevizo, 19, also was charged this week with tampering with evidence, according to a criminal complaint filed in Eddy County in southeastern New Mexico.

Trevizo went to the emergency room in late December for back pain, and lab tests showed she was pregnant and in labor, according to Artesia police. Trevizo then locked herself in a bathroom, where she gave birth to a boy Jan. 27, then placed the baby in a bag that she concealed under other trash, investigators said.

By the time the baby was found, the baby had died and Trevizo had left the hospital, investigators said. An autopsy listed the cause of death as a homicide.

Gary C. Mitchell, an attorney for Trevizo, said Thursday that said his client has no criminal record and should not be facing a murder charge.

He said there are "major discrepancies about what happened" in the hospital and "this isn't a classic child abuse case."

A court hearing is scheduled Friday to review conditions of release.

It's the second high-profile case involving a mother and a newborn baby in New Mexico lately.

Jurors convicted Alexis Avila, 19, of throwing her newborn into an outdoor trash receptacle in January 2020 in Hobbs, New Mexico. The child survived. Avila was sentenced May 1 to 16 years in prison.