MON: Police say at least three killed and others wounded in Farmington shooting, + More
At least 3 killed, others wounded in New Mexico shooting, police say - By Ken Ritter and Terry Tang, Associated Press
At least three people were killed and several others were wounded Monday, including two police officers, in a northwestern New Mexico community before law enforcement fatally shot the 18-year-old suspect, authorities said.
The shootings occurred around 11 a.m. in Farmington, a city of about 50,000 people that serves as a modern-day trading post to the adjacent Navajo Nation and is a supply line and bedroom community to the region's oil and natural gas industry.
Officers responding to several calls about a shooting found "a chaotic scene" where a man was firing at people on a residential street, Farmington Police Deputy Chief Baric Crum said during a news conference.
Police confronted the suspected shooter before fatally shooting him. They found three people dead.
Crum did not identify the suspect and said he didn't know the ages of any of the victims.
"Besides the suspect himself, who is deceased, there were nine other people injured," Crum said, adding that police were trying to determine why he was in the neighborhood.
It was not immediately clear if the number of injured included the officers who were wounded. The two, who work for Farmington police and the State Police, were reported to be in stable condition at the San Juan Regional Medical Center.
"There are no other known threats at this time," police said, adding that city, San Juan County and State Police were involved.
Investigators will now have to look at a crime scene that spans several blocks, according to Crum. Police are asking for anyone with information to come forward.
"What we now need from our community is anybody that has any additional information, whether that be eyewitness information or video information or whatever it may be, if you feel it's pertinent," Crum said.
After the shootings were reported, the city's schools were placed on what officials called "preventative lockdown."
Middle school teacher Nick Akins, whose home is on a street that police locked down, described the neighborhood as a mostly great place to live, with a mix of homes, short-term rental apartments and churches.
"It's not like the roughest area in town, but it can be," he said. "We have great neighbors and rentals, people who come and go. We don't always know everyone."
Seeing Farmington in the national spotlight for yet another mass shooting, particularly one that occurred on his street, was surreal for him.
"You never think it's going to happen here and all of a sudden, in a tiny little town it comes here," Akins said.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement that she was praying for the families of the victims and that the incident "serves at yet another reminder of how gun violence destroys lives in our state and our country every single day." The governor, a Democrat, did not describe any other circumstances of the deadly confrontation.
"Today, gun violence took the lives of our elders, wounded two police officers, and paralyzed Farmington's small community in fear," U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Democrat, whose district includes the area, said on Facebook. "I praise the heroes who drove to danger to stop the violence. I pray for the quick recovery of the wounded and for the families of those we lost."
"Our beautiful Nuevo Mexico is not immune to the mass shootings that occur across the country — Every. Single. Day," the message said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tweeted that agents from Phoenix were headed to Farmington to assist in the investigation.
Farmington is not far from where New Mexico borders Colorado, Utah and Arizona. In recent years, cafes and breweries have cropped up downtown alongside decades-old businesses that trade in Native American crafts from silver jewelry to wool weavings. Traveling Broadway shows make regular stops at the expansive community center auditorium, while rural lots on the outskirts are littered with disassembled oilfield equipment.
Last month Farmington police shot and killed a man at his front door after they went to the wrong address while responding to a domestic violence call.
Associated Press writer Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico, contributed to this report.
Low fertility rates, high housing prices mean fewer children in most states- By Tim Henderson, Source New Mexico
Thirty-five states have fewer children than they did five years ago, a situation caused by declining birth rates nationwide, but also by young families migrating across state borders in search of cheaper housing.
Even in the 15 states that gained children, all but North Dakota experienced greater growth in the adult population, meaning children now make up a lower percentage of residents.
In states where the number of children has declined, school officials are facing the possibility of teacher layoffs or even school closures when pandemic aid expires next year. A decline in school enrollment could provide short-term cost savings and might be a benefit to children if there are more resources to go around, but it bodes poorly for future state workforces.
In states where the drop in the number of children is part of a broader population decline, there will be additional fiscal, economic and political ramifications, such as diminished representation in Congress.
The states with the largest drops were California, Illinois and New Mexico, where the child population declined by 6% between 2017 and 2022, according to a Stateline analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Idaho and North Dakota saw the largest increases, at 4%.
The declines mostly are a reflection of historically low fertility rates, which have been below the replacement rate of two children per woman since 2010. Births increased in only a handful of states in 2021.
But in the 35 states that experienced declines, high housing prices also are a factor. In California, jobs pay well but the state’s housing shortage has sent prices beyond the means of young families, said Hans Johnson, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank.
“People want to buy a house and have children, but they realize they can’t do it here so they look in the vicinity, states close by, and work remotely so they can keep their California paychecks,” Johnson said.
Slow population growth cost California a seat in Congress after the 2020 census. The number of adults in California grew in the past five years, according to the Stateline analysis, but the decline in the number of children led to a lower overall population.
California also has experienced a phenomenon shared by other Western states: The children of Hispanic immigrants have lower birth rates than their parents. California’s total fertility rate dropped from 2.15 per woman in 2008 to a historic low of 1.52 in 2020, the lowest since records have been kept, Johnson wrote in a January report.
California, Illinois and New Mexico all have seen lower school enrollment in recent years, even as they’ve tried to rekindle interest in public education after pandemic upheavals.
In New Mexico, enrollment has dropped particularly sharply in the northwestern part of the state, where there are many Indigenous students, according to a January state report. Between 2012 and 2022, enrollment declined by 22% in the majority-Native Central Consolidated Schools in San Juan County, compared with a statewide decline of 7%, according to the report. Indigenous and other children in the mostly rural area struggle to stay in school because of long bus commutes and lack of internet access at home.
The recent closure of a coal mine and the power generating station it fueled forced many families with children to move away from San Juan County to find jobs, according to Central Consolidated school board President Christina Aspaas.
“A lot of Navajo workers who were employed had to relocate to Phoenix or elsewhere out of state to earn the same wages,” Aspaas said. “It affected the local tribes, Hopi and Navajo, Diné. Seeing the impacts makes my heart break. These are all my children, and they deserve the best in education and in life.”
In Idaho and North Dakota, annual school enrollment has increased over the past five years, except for temporary drops early in the pandemic. But Idaho is bracing for a decline starting in 2025, when children from a historic 2007 baby boom in the state start turning 18.
Idaho has become known as a picturesque and affordable place to raise children, said Jaap Vos, a planning professor at the University of Idaho in Boise. He relocated from Florida with his 3-year-old son in 2012, “when it was still the middle of nowhere,” he said. The number of adults in the state grew by 16% during the same period.
Boise is getting a lot of new residents from California, and northern Idaho is seeing more movers from Northern California, Washington and Utah. “It might be for ideological reasons, people looking for a more conservative lifestyle,” Vos said. He added that some people have left Boise as it has grown more crowded.
Even in northern Idaho, housing prices have risen rapidly.
Writer Leah Hampton is moving from North Carolina to Moscow in northern Idaho to teach at the University of Idaho. But she said she is having trouble finding an affordable house — even without children. Her husband is working remotely.
“Moscow is definitely a great place to raise kids. It’s like a 1950s movie up here but more diverse and left wing,” Hampton said. “All of my friends’ children seem really happy and well-adjusted. But cost of living is much higher than we expected. We have money and we literally can’t find anything to buy.”
Many houses are sold sight unseen to investors offering cash, she said.
Another fast-growing state with meager growth in the number of children is Florida, where a decrease in births and an increase in deaths over the past five years has created a negative drag on overall population, according to census estimates. The state had almost 25,000 more births than deaths in 2017, but there were 40,000 more deaths than births by 2022.
Still, Florida had the third-highest increase in child population between 2017 and 2022, at 2%. One reason: Hispanic births in Florida have continued to increase, unlike in Western states, said Stefan Rayer, director of the population program at the state Bureau of Economic and Business Research. In fact, births are increasing for white, Black and Hispanic mothers in Florida, helping to offset some of the increasing deaths among the white population, Rayer said.
“Unless births increase substantially, because of the aging of Florida’s population, the state will likely see natural decrease for the foreseeable future, with all growth coming from migration,” Rayer said.
Border crossings off from last week's highs as US pins hopes for order on mobile app - By Elliot Spagat Associated Press
Pandemic-era limits on asylum known as Title 42 have been rarely discussed among many of tens of thousands of migrants massed on Mexico's border with the United States.
Their eyes were — and are — fixed instead on a new U.S. government mobile app that grants 1,000 people daily an appointment to cross the border and seek asylum while living in the U.S. With demand far outstripping available slots, the app has been an exercise in frustration for many — and a test of the Biden administration's strategy of coupling new legal paths to entry with severe consequences for those who don't follow them.
"You start to give up hope but it's the only way," said Teresa Muñoz, 48, who abandoned her home in the Mexican state of Michoacan after a gang killed her husband and beat her. She has been trying for a month to gain entry through the app, called CBPOne, while staying in a Tijuana shelter with her two children and 2-year-old grandson.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the Border Patrol made 6,300 arrests on Friday — the first day after the Title 42 restrictions expired — and 4,200 Saturday. That's sharply below the 10,000-plus on three days last week as migrants rushed to get in before new policies to restrict asylum took effect.
"It is still early," Mayorkas said Sunday on CNN's 'State of the Union.' "We are in day three, but we have been planning for this transition for months and months. And we have been executing on our plan. And we will continue to do so."
Despite the drop in recent days, authorities predict arrests will spike to between 12,000 and 14,000 a day, Matthew Hudak, deputy Border Patrol chief, said in a court filing Friday. And authorities cannot confidently estimate how many will cross, Hudak said, noting intelligence reports failed to quickly flag a "singular surge" of 18,000 predominantly Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas, in September 2021.
More than 27,000 migrants were in custody along the border one day last week, a number that may top 45,000 by the end of May if authorities can't release migrants without orders to appear in immigration court, Hudak said.
The administration plans to ask an appeals court Monday for permission to release migrants without orders to appear in court. Authorities say it takes between 90 minutes and two hours to process a single adult for court - potentially choking Border Patrol holding facilities – and longer to process families. By contrast, it takes only 20 minutes to release someone with instructions to report to an immigration office in 60 days, a common practice since 2021 to ease overcrowding along the border.
The Justice Department even raised the possibility of declining to take people into custody if it can't quickly release migrants, calling that a "worst-case scenario."
President Joe Biden, spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, said his hope was that the border numbers would "continue to go down" but that "we have a lot more work to do."
"We need some more help from the Congress as well, in terms of funding and legislative changes," Biden told reporters.
The administration is touting new legal pathways in an effort to deter illegal crossings, including parole for 30,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans a month who apply online with a financial sponsor and arrive at an airport.
Hundreds of predominantly Colombian migrants waited to be processed Saturday in searing heat near Jacumba, California, having slept for days in thatched tents east of San Diego and getting by on the Border Patrol's limited supply of cookies and water. Several said they crossed illegally after trying the app without success or hearing tales of frustration from others.
Ana Cuna, 27, said she and other Colombians paid $1,300 each to be guided across the border after reaching Tijuana. She said she touched foot on U.S. soil hours before Title 42 expired Thursday but, like others, was given a numbered wristband by the Border Patrol and, two days later, had not been processed.
Under Title 42, a public-health rule, migrants were denied asylum more than 2.8 million times on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. When it expired, the administration launched a policy to deny asylum to people who travel through another country, like Mexico, to the U.S., with few exceptions.
"We want to come according to the law and be welcomed," said Cuna, whose thatched tent included Colombian women and families hoping to reach Chicago, San Antonio, Philadelphia and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Releasing migrants without court orders but with instructions to report an immigration office in 60 days became widespread in 2021. Directing that processing work to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices when migrants report to the agency's offices created additional delays – with ICE offices in New York backed up until 2033 just to schedule an initial court appearance.
U.S. District Judge T. Kent Wetherell in Pensacola, Florida, in March ordered an end to the practice, which the administration had effectively stopped by then anyway. It chose not to appeal the ruling but reactivated the policy last week, calling it an emergency response. The state of Florida protested and Wetherell ordered the administration to avoid the quick releases for two weeks. He scheduled a hearing on Friday.
Since CBPOne launched Jan. 12 for asylum-seekers, it has exasperated many with error messages, difficulty capturing photos and a frantic daily ritual of racing thumbs on phone screens until slots run out within minutes.
In Tijuana, Muñoz looked into being smuggled through the mountains east of San Diego but determined it would cost too much. She is still haunted by walking through the Arizona desert in the mid-2000s on a grueling one-week trek. After saving money working double shifts at a supermarket near Los Angeles, she returned to Mexico to raise her children.
Last week, the administration increased the number of slots awarded on the app to 1,000 from 740, began granting priority to those who try longest, and released slots gradually throughout the day instead of all at once, which had created mad rushes. So far, Muñoz said she is unconvinced.
Authorities assess damage after sidewalk sinkhole on New Mexico bridge; 2 pedestrians rescued - Associated Press
Authorities on Sunday were assessing the damage after a sidewalk sinkhole developed on a New Mexico bridge, resulting in the rescue of two pedestrians.
Los Lunas police said the city's Main Street bridge over the Rio Grande remained closed due to the sinkhole under a sidewalk on the east side of the bridge.
"There's culverts nearby that undermined the roadway and for that reason, it caused some areas to erode," New Mexico Department of Transportation District 3 spokeswoman Kimberly Gallegos said. "That's when we started to realize that we had to get traffic off of this roadway."
Gallagos added that water levels are high and the culverts are being affected by that.
Albuquerque TV station KOAT said a man and his son were rescued Saturday night after two women passing by the sidewalk sinkhole heard someone calling for help.
Several media reports Saturday night said the bridge partially collapsed, but authorities said that was not accurate.
New Mexico Department of Transportation officials were on the scene Sunday trying to determine the extent of the culvert damage on one of Valencia County's main roads.
Los Lunas Fire Chief John Gabaldon said a water line had to be shut off to prevent more problems if a pipe running through the sinkhole broke.
Gabaldon didn't immediately know how many homes were affected by the water outage.
Los Lunas is about 24 miles south of Albuquerque.
Native American leader and advocate for tribal sovereignty Joe A. Garcia dies at 70 - Associated Press
Joe A. Garcia, a well-known Native American leader from New Mexico and advocate for tribal sovereignty, has died at 70, his family confirmed Saturday.
A traditional funeral was already held following Garcia's death Thursday, said family members. The cause of death was not made public.
Garcia was a former two-time president of the the National Congress of American Indians, which describes itself as the oldest and largest organization of American Indian and Alaska Native governments. He previously served three terms as governor of the Ohkay Owingeh, a federally designated tribe of pueblo people in New Mexico. Garcia was currently the tribe's head councilman.
"His untimely departure is a significant loss for Indian Country, as he was a true culture keeper for his people and a dedicated advocate for Native Nations across the Southwest region," Fawn Sharp, the president of the National Congress of American Indians, said in a statement.
"Beyond his role as a leader, Joe Garcia was a mentor, a visionary, and a compassionate soul who touched the lives of many. He leaves a profound legacy of service, leadership, and cultural preservation," Sharp added.
Garcia had been chairman of the All Indian Pueblo Council, now renamed the All Pueblo Council of Governors, a non-profit leadership group that represents the modern pueblo tribes.
He also had been a vice president of the Board of Trustees of the Santa Fe Indian School, which serves about 700 Native American middle and high school students.
The Santa Fe Indian School noted Garcia's passing on its website.
"His work in Indian Country will not be forgotten," wrote Robyn Aguilar, president of the school's board of trustees. "I am truly thankful to have had a mentor who was courageous in his conviction to protect Sovereign lands and the rights of Indian children."
Garcia held an an electrical engineering degree from the University of New Mexico and worked 25 years for Los Alamos National Laboratory before retiring in 2003, according to the school's statement.
Garcia is survived by his wife, Oneva, daughters Melissa and MorningStar, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, among other family. His son, Nathan, died in 2020.
Biden proposal would let conservationists lease public land much as drillers and ranchers do - By Matthew Brown Associated Press
The Biden administration wants to put conserving vast government-owned lands on equal footing with oil drilling, livestock grazing and other interests, according to a top administration official who defended the idea against criticism that it would interfere with industry.
The proposal would allow conservationists and others to lease federally owned land to restore it, much the same way oil companies buy leases to drill and ranchers pay to graze cattle. Companies could also buy conservation leases, such as oil drillers who want to offset damage to public land by restoring acreage elsewhere.
Tracy Stone-Manning, director of the Bureau of Land Management, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the proposed changes would address rising pressure from climate change and development. While the bureau previously issued leases for conservation in limited cases, it has never had a dedicated program for it, she said.
"It makes conservation an equal among the multiple uses that we manage for," Stone-Manning said. "There are rules around how we do solar development. There are rules around how we do oil and gas. There have not been rules around how we deliver on the portions of (federal law) that say, 'Manage for fish and wildlife habitat, manage for clean water.'"
The pending rule also would promote establishing more areas of "critical environmental concern" due to their historic or cultural significance, or their importance for wildlife conservation. More than 1,000 such sites covering about 33,000 square miles (85,000 square kilometers) have been designated previously.
By comparison, about 242,00 square miles of bureau land are open to grazing livestock.
But more than a century after the U.S, started selling oil and gas leases, the conservation idea is stirring debate over the best use of vast government-owned property, primarily in the West.
Opponents including Republican lawmakers are blasting it as a backdoor way to exclude mining, energy development and agriculture from land controlled by the BLM.
The bureau has a history of industry-friendly policies for the 380,000 square miles (990,000 square kilometers) it oversees, an area more than twice the size of California. It also regulates publicly owned underground minerals, including oil, coal and lithium for renewable energy across more than 1 million square miles.
Those holdings put the 10,000-person agency at the center of arguments over how much development should be allowed.
On Monday night, senior agency officials were scheduled to host the first virtual public meeting about the conservation proposal. Another virtual event is slated for June 5 and public meetings are planned for May 25 in Denver; May 30 in Reno, Nevada; and June 1 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican who tried to block Stone-Manning's 2021 Senate confirmation, says the proposed rule is illegal.
Earlier this month he berated Interior Secretary Deb Haaland over it during an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, saying she was "giving radicals a new tool to shut out the public."
"The secretary wants to make non-use a use," said Barrasso, the ranking Republican on the committee. "She is ... turning federal law on its head."
Stone-Manning said critics are misreading the rule, and that conservation leases would not usurp existing ones. If grazing is now permitted on a parcel, it could continue. And people could still hunt on the leased property or use it for recreation, she said.
Former President Donald Trump tried to ramp up fossil fuel development on bureau lands, but President Joe Biden suspended new oil and gas leasing when he entered office. Biden later revived the deals to win West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's support for last year's climate law.
Biden remains under intense pressure from Manchin and many Republicans to allow more drilling. Such companies currently hold leases across some 37,500 square miles of bureau land.
Environmentalists have largely embraced the idea of conservation leases, characterizing the proposal as long overdue.
Joel Webster with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a coalition of conservation groups and hunting and fishing organizations, said the administration's plan would set up a process to ensure landscapes are considered for conservation without forcing restrictions.
He cautioned, however, that administration officials must ensure a final rule doesn't have unintended consequences.
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.
‘PEOPLE ARE BEING DENIED DUE PROCESS’
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.”
RUSHED INTERVIEWS LIKELY EXPANDING TO BORDER PATROL TENTS
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.
IMMIGRATION COURTS ‘NOT BENEFICIAL’ FOR MOST
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.
‘A HUGE MESS’
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.
Sidney Hill, a spokesperson for the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, which oversees the oil division, said Friday that repeated violations would be grounds for escalated penalties.
He said notices can often involve violations of multiple requirements. He pointed to a notice of violation issued in March that marked the first to cite a violation specific to a "prohibited release." It included $472,850 in civil penalties due to an operator's failure to appropriately handle the release.
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.