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THURS: Las Cruces police officer indicted for voluntary manslaughter, + More

Police body camera footage shows Las Cruces police officer Brad Lunsford approach Presley Eze's car at a gas station moments before video from a bystander shows Lunsford shoot Eze in the head at point-blank range during a scuffle. A grand jury has indicted Lunsford on a charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Courtesy New Mexico Attorney General's Office
Police body camera footage shows Las Cruces police officer Brad Lunsford approach Presley Eze's car at a gas station moments before video from a bystander shows Lunsford shoot Eze in the head at point-blank range during a scuffle. A grand jury has indicted Lunsford on a charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Las Cruces police officer indicted for voluntary manslaughter in fatal 2022 shooting of a Black man - Associated Press

A Las Cruces police officer has been indicted on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a Black man during a confrontation last year, authorities said Thursday.

The indictment posted Wednesday said Brad Lunsford allegedly shot 36-year-old Presley Eze on Aug. 2, 2022, at a Las Cruces gas station after an employee of the business called 911 to report seeing Eze stealing beer.

Authorities said Lunsford was the first officer to arrive and during a scuffle, Eze placed his hand on a second officer's stun gun. The two men were on the ground, and Eze was on top, according to authorities.

Lunsford drew his handgun and allegedly shot Eze once in the head at point-blank range.

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez said his office consulted with use-of-force experts who concluded that the use of deadly force was not reasonable under the circumstances.

"It is our duty to ensure that law enforcement officers are held to the highest standards, that their actions are transparently examined, and that any misconduct is addressed with the utmost seriousness," Torrez said in a statement Thursday.

Prosecutors said Lunsford, 38, could face up to nine years in prison if he's convicted of voluntary manslaughter with firearm enhancement.

Jess Lilley, a lawyer for Lunsford, said he hadn't seen a copy of the indictment yet. "But we're anxious for a jury to listen to the truth of what happened," Lilley told The Associated Press. "We're confident that Mr. Lunsford will be found not guilty."

US touts new era of collaboration with Native American tribes to manage public lands and water - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

The U.S. government is entering a new era of collaboration with Native American and Alaska Native leaders in managing public lands and other resources, with top federal officials saying that incorporating more Indigenous knowledge into decision-making can help spur conservation and combat climate change.

Federal emergency managers on Thursday also announced updates to recovery policies to aid tribal communities in the repair or rebuilding of traditional homes or ceremonial buildings after a series of wildfires, floods and other disasters around the country.

With hundreds of tribal leaders gathering in Washington this week for an annual summit, the Biden administration is celebrating nearly 200 new agreements that are designed to boost federal cooperation with tribes nationwide.

The agreements cover everything from fishery restoration projects in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to management of new national monuments in the Southwestern U.S., seed collection work in Montana and plant restoration in the Great Smoky Mountains.

"The United States manages hundreds of millions of acres of what we call federal public lands. Why wouldn't we want added capacity, added expertise, millennia of knowledge and understanding of how to manage those lands?" U.S. Interior Assistant Secretary Bryan Newland said during a panel discussion.

The new co-management and co-stewardship agreements announced this week mark a tenfold increase over what had been inked just a year earlier, and officials said more are in the pipeline.

Newland, a citizen of the Bay Mills Indian Community in northern Michigan, said each agreement is unique. He said each arrangement is tailored to a tribe's needs and capacity for helping to manage public lands — and at the very least assures their presence at the table when decisions are made.

The federal government is not looking to dictate to tribal leaders what a partnership should look like, he said.

The U.S. government controls more than a quarter of the land in the United States, with much of that encompassing the ancestral homelands of federally recognized tribes. While the idea of co-stewardship dates back decades and has spanned multiple presidential administrations, many tribes have advocated in recent years for a more formal role in managing federal lands to which they have a connection.

Tribes and advocacy groups have been pushing for arrangements that go beyond the consultation requirements mandated by federal law.

Researchers at the University of Washington and legal experts with the Native American Rights Fund have put together a new clearinghouse on the topic. They point out that public lands now central to the country's national heritage originated from the dispossession and displacement of Indigenous people and that co-management could present on opportunity for the U.S. to reckon with that complicated legacy.

Ada Montague Stepleton, a staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, said the significant uptick in the number of agreements signed just in the past year show there's a willingness in Indian Country to find a path forward that is mutually beneficial to tribes and the federal government — and ultimately taxpayers.

"We've been compiling information to try to understand these agreements better," she said. "There is a sort of a double-edged sword. We want to make sure that sovereignty isn't eroded while at the same time creating places where co-management can, in fact, occur."

Montague Stepleton said one of the challenges is that tribes often have few resources, with much of their attention going toward maintaining their cultures and ensuring their communities have access to food, water and health care.

In an attempt to address complaints about chronic underfunding across Indian Country, President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order on the first day of the summit that will make it easier for tribes to find and access grants.

Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told tribal leaders Thursday that her agency began work this year to upgrade its disaster guidance particularly in response to tribal needs.

The Indigenous people of Hawaii have increasingly been under siege from disasters, most recently a devastating fire that killed dozens of people and leveled an entire town. Just last month, another blaze scorched a stretch of irreplaceable rainforest on Oahu.

Tribes in California and Oregon also were forced to seek disaster declarations earlier this year after severe storms resulted in flooding and mudslides.

Nancy James, first chief of the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich'in Tribal Council in Alaska, said the effects of climate change on tribal communities can't be ignored.

"Reality check," she said, after ticking off details about warmer temperatures, bears not hibernating as they should and the inability of her people to fish due to changing water conditions. "Global warming has affected every one of us."

Criswell said the new guidance includes a pathway for Native American, Alaska Native and Hawaiian communities to request presidential disaster declarations, providing them with access to emergency federal relief funding.

The agency also is now accepting tribal self-certified damage assessments and cost estimates for restoring ceremonial buildings or traditional homes, while not requiring site inspections, maps or other details that might compromise culturally sensitive data.

The taxman owes at least 16K N.M. taxpayers money - Shaun Griswold, Source New Mexico 

A few thousand New Mexican taxpayers are missing out on some money in their pockets.

About 16,700 tax rebate checks sit in Unclaimed Property in an account controlled by the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department. That’s at least $6 million in money the state is looking to give back to residents who filed their 2022 tax returns.

You might be one of those people to have money coming your way.

It’s easy to figure out.

State tax officials set up a few avenues to learn if they have your money.

First, search your name online on this system tax where department officials list unclaimed property, i.e. your money.

Or, you can scan this QR code to get access to the database and see if the state of New Mexico owes you money.

If you have money owed, then you need to claim yours. You can do it on the website or by emailing your claim information to a state agent at nm.rebates@tax.nm.gov.

According to state tax and revenue spokesperson Charlie Moore, an additional 11,500 rebate checks from 2023 taxpayers have already been returned to the state. That total value is unclear at this point, Moore said.

If you fall into this category, you can use the same website and process as the people owed money from 2022.

State officials said changing addresses or even death have caused issues getting money to taxpayers.

Anyone can update their address by creating an account with the state at tap.state.nm.us or by submitting Form RPD-41260 that is also available here.

Moore said the process moves quickly.

“If they take care of it online and as long as the documentation is good,” he said, “it still has to go through a couple of steps, but with the ones submitted online, we potentially can get them turned around in about a week.”

Small claims are typically $500 or less. Anyone owed more than that must submit multiple claims to receive all of their money.

The tax office also has a process for family members of people who died but are still owed by the state.

New Mexico tax officials need an affidavit for heirs to claim any funds or rebates for dead taxpayers. That information can be found here.

Water bottling company makes another play for Los Lunas expansionValencia County News-Bulletin

Niagara Bottling Co. is looking to expand its plant in the Village of Los Lunas and increase the amount of water it can pump from wells there.

TheValencia County News-Bulletin reports the village council will take up the issue Thursday evening. Niagara’s current permit allows it to pump 285 acre feet, or almost 93 million gallons, annually from the village. It wants to increase that to 782 acre feet, which is more than 254 million gallons.

The original 2017 agreement between Niagara and Los Lunas required the company to secure water rights and transfer them to the village’s wells. The company transferred water rights leased from PNM, and plans to follow the same process to increase its capacity under the proposed amended agreement.

An earlier attempt by Niagara to increase its water intake in 2022 was met with protests and the agreement was tabled in July of that year. Last year, a group called Valencia Water Watchers started an online petition that collected 3,000 signatures urging Mayor Charles Griego to vote against the agreement.

The Village of Los Lunas Council meets at 6 p.m. Thursday. The meeting will also be streamed live.

At tribal summit, Biden says he's working to 'heal the wrongs of the past' and 'move forward' - By Colleen Long, Susan Montoya Bryan and Hallie Golden Associated Press

President Joe Biden told Native American nations gathered for a summit Wednesday that his administration was working to heal the wrongs of the past as he signed an executive order that seeks to make it easier for Indigenous peoples to access federal funding, and have greater autonomy over how to spend it.

Biden also threw his support behind a request to allow Haudenosaunee Confederacy to compete under its own flag in the 2028 Olympics in lacrosse, a sport they invented.

Historically, federal policies attacked Native people's rights to self-governance and caused lasting economic damage. Biden said the actions at the summit were "key steps" that would help usher in a new era of tribal sovereignty. "A new era grounded in dignity and respect that recognizes your fundamental rights to govern and grow on your own terms," he said.

"It's hard work to heal the wrongs of the past and change the course, and move forward," Biden said.

Yurok Tribal Council Member Phillip Williams described Biden's speech as inspirational.

"It felt like our highest official in the land acknowledges the crimes of the past," he said. "His contribution to society is to help to heal the tribal nations."

Biden signed the order as members of his administration and tribal nation leaders stood behind him on stage at the Department of the Interior. The order in part creates a clearinghouse for Native American and Alaska native tribes to find and access grants and it requests that federal agencies ensure that funding is accessible and equitable. It also gives them more authority over how to spend the money.

That news was welcomed by Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren, who said the funding they get from the federal government to help the hundreds of thousands of people on their reservation that extends across Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, can be difficult to spend.

"There's so much policies and things that are attached to it and requirements that are attached to it that sometimes it's just overwhelming to try to get it done," he said.

Tyson Johnston, self governance executive director for the Quinault Indian Nation in northwest Washington state, who is responsible for coordinating the relocation of their villages in the face of dangerous sea level rise, highlighted the importance of this type of autonomy when it comes to climate change.

In July, the Biden administration announced $120 million in grant funding for tribes in the U.S. to boost their resiliency to climate change.

"All of us are going to have different adaptation strategies and different priorities moving forward. So boxing us in and keeping us in kind of bureaucratic red tape is really not going to work if we want to continue to make meaningful change," he said.

Biden hosted the summit in person last year and virtually the year before. This year, White House officials said, the goal was to provide an opportunity for tribal leaders to have more meaningful conversations directly with members of Biden's Cabinet.

While the federal government has an obligation to consult with tribal governments, some Native American and Alaska Native leaders have complained that federal agencies often treat the process as a check-the-box practice despite efforts by Haaland to make changes.

From Nevada to Alaska, permitting decisions over mining projects, oil and gas development and the preservation of sacred areas, for example, have highlighted what some leaders say are shortcomings in the process.

The Democratic administration also announced more than 190 agreements that allow tribes to manage federal lands, waters and natural resources and a new study to help better interpret and tell the history of Native Americans, particularly during periods of federal reform.

"Yes, there are parts of our history that are painful, but there are also those that we celebrate and that show our resilience, strength and our contributions," said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna.

Biden said he was throwing his support behind the effort to allow the confederacy to play under its own flag at the Los Angeles Olympics. The International Olympic Committee would have to make an exception to a rule permitting only teams playing as part of an official national Olympic committee to compete in the Games. The Haudenosaunee have competed as their own team at a number of international events since 1990.

The Haudenosaunee Nationals Lacrosse Organization, established in 1983, is among the best in the world. The confederacy is made up of six different nations, the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas and Tuscarora Nation. It spans the border between the U.S. and Canada.

"Their circumstances are unique," Biden said. "They should be granted an exception to field their own team at the Olympics."

The Department of the Interior is also working on final revisions to a rule overhauling how human remains, funerary objects and sacred objects are repatriated. The new rules streamline the requirements for museums and federal agencies to identify possible items for repatriation.

Officials also announced that the White House Council on Native American Affairs, which is co-chaired by Haaland and Tanden, has published a guide outlining best practices and procedures for the management, treatment and protection of sacred sites. The document was recently finalized after taking into account feedback from tribal leaders.

In Nevada, Arlan Melendez, chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, said Tuesday that promises about meaningful consultation haven't materialized as several tribes have fought to halt construction of one of the largest lithium mines in the world. The tribes say the mine is being built illegally near the sacred site of an 1865 massacre along the Nevada-Oregon line.

"Consultation has to happen in the early stages," he said. "If you do consultation after the project is already rolling, it doesn't do you so much good at that point. So we are a little bit disappointed in them."

Facebook parent sued by New Mexico alleging it has failed to shield children from predators

Facebook and Instagram fail to protect underage users from exposure to child sexual abuse material and let adults solicit pornographic imagery from them, New Mexico's attorney general alleges in a lawsuit that follows an undercover online investigation.

"Our investigation into Meta's social media platforms demonstrates that they are not safe spaces for children but rather prime locations for predators to trade child pornography and solicit minors for sex," Attorney General Raul Torrez said in a statement Wednesday.

The civil lawsuit filed late Tuesday against Meta Platforms Inc. in state court also names its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, as a defendant.

In addition, the suit claims Meta "harms children and teenagers through the addictive design of its platform, degrading users' mental health, their sense of self-worth, and their physical safety," Torrez's office said in a statement.

Those claims echo a lawsuit filed in late October by the attorneys general of 33 states, including California and New York, against Meta that alleges Instagram and Facebook include features deliberately designed to hook children, contributing to the youth mental health crisis and leading to depression, anxiety and eating disorders. New Mexico was not a party to that lawsuit.

Investigators in New Mexico created decoy accounts of children 14 years and younger that Torrez's office said were served sexually explicit images even when the child expressed no interest in them. State prosecutors claim that Meta let dozens of adults find, contact and encourage children to provide sexually explicit and pornographic images.

The accounts also received recommendations to join unmoderated Facebook groups devoted to facilitating commercial sex, investigators said, adding that Meta also let its users find, share, and sell "an enormous volume of child pornography."

"Mr. Zuckerberg and other Meta executives are aware of the serious harm their products can pose to young users, and yet they have failed to make sufficient changes to their platforms that would prevent the sexual exploitation of children," Torrez said, accusing Meta's executives of prioritizing "engagement and ad revenue over the safety of the most vulnerable members of our society."

Meta, which is based in Menlo Park, California, did not directly respond to the New Mexico lawsuit's allegations, but said that it works hard to protect young users with a serious commitment of resources.

"We use sophisticated technology, hire child safety experts, report content to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and share information and tools with other companies and law enforcement, including state attorneys general, to help root out predators," the company said. "In one month alone, we disabled more than half a million accounts for violating our child safety policies."

Company spokesman Andy Stone pointed to a company report detailing the millions of tips Facebook and Instagram sent to the National Center in the third quarter of 2023 — including 48,000 involving inappropriate interactions that could include an adult soliciting child sexual abuse material directly from a minor or attempting to meet with one in person.

Critics including former employees have long complained that Meta's largely automated content moderation systems are ill-equipped to identify and adequately eliminate abusive behavior on its platforms.

Heinrich calls for better oversight of Israel’s use of U.S. weapons to harm Palestinian civilians - By Nash Jones, KUNM News

As the U.S. ramps up its military aid to Israel in its war against Hamas, New Mexico senior U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich and four of his colleagues have sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling for stepped-up efforts to ensure Israel is following U.S. policy and international law when it uses American weapons.

Heinrich signed ontothe letter Tuesday with fellow Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Tim Kaine and Independent Bernie Sanders.

Following a condemnation of Hamas’ October attack on Israel, the Senators laid out reasons behind their concern: That the majority of the over 15,000 Palestinians who Israel has killed were civilians, that human rights groups say many of those deaths were preventable, and that Israel has repeatedly targeted designated “safe zones,” refugee camps, and hospitals.

The Senators wrote that, “The risk of violating international law and our own standards increases as Israel uses explosive weapons in densely populated areas.” They noted the U.S. has provided weapons without setting any conditions for how Israel uses them.

The lawmakers also highlighted difficulties Congress faces in sussing out which Israeli weapons came from the United States, and therefore whether U.S. assistance is “contributing to disproportionate civilian harm.”

To help address their concerns and better inform them of his administration’s efforts, the Senators asked Biden to respond to a list of questions by Dec. 20.

New Mexico hires Bronco Mendenhall as its new football coach; formerly coached BYU and Virginia - Associated Press

New Mexico hired Bronco Mendenhall as its new head football coach Wednesday.

The 57-year-old Mendenhall compiled a 135-81 record over 17 seasons at BYU and Virginia and was 7-7 in bowl games before he stepped away from coaching following the 2021 season.

Mendenhall moved to Montana with his wife Holly and spent time fishing and horseback riding before deciding to return to college football.

He's the 33rd head coach in New Mexico's football history and succeeds Danny Gonzales, who was fired Nov. 25 after a 4-8 season at his alma mater. Gonzales had an 11-32 record over four seasons with the Lobos, who haven't had a winning season since 2016.

Albuquerque TV station KOB reported that Mendenhall signed a five-year contract with the Lobos. A news conference was scheduled for Thursday morning.

In a statement Wednesday, Mendenhall said he welcomed "the challenge and opportunity of building a program of excellence" and added that he and his wife were excited to be returning to Albuquerque after 25 years.

"Throughout this process, we were looking for not just a proven winner, but a leader of men that has a clear vision for what our program can be," athletic director Eddie Nuñez said in a statement. "Coach Mendenhall has twice taken over programs that were struggling, turning them into winning, championship programs."

All 11 of Mendenhall's BYU teams went to a bowl and he guided Virginia to three bowl games, including the Orange Bowl in 2019.

BYU won Mountain West Conference championships in 2006 and 2007 under Mendenhall and he was named the Mountain West coach of the year in 2006.

Mendenhall, who played safety and linebacker at Oregon State from 1986-87 and was a team captain, started his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Beavers before becoming a position coach or defensive coordinator at Utah's Snow College, Northern Arizona and Louisiana Tech.

Washington's center of gravity on immigration has shifted to the right. Can the parties make a deal? - By Seung Min Kim and Colleen Long Associated Press

It was a decade ago that Capitol Hill was consumed by an urgency to overhaul the nation's immigration system, fueled in no small part by Republicans who felt a political imperative to make inroads with minority voters by embracing more generous policies.

But nothing ever became law and in the time since, Washington's center of gravity on immigration has shifted demonstrably to the right, with the debate now focused on measures meant to keep migrants out as Republicans sense they have the political upper hand.

Long gone are the chatter and horse-trading between parties over how to secure a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, or a modernized work permit system to encourage more legal migration. Instead, the fights of late have centered on how much to tighten asylum laws and restrain a president's traditional powers to protect certain groups of migrants.

Now, Democrats and Republicans are again struggling to strike an immigration deal — and the consequences of failure stretch far beyond the southern border. Congressional Republicans are insisting on tougher border measures as their price for greenlighting billions in additional aid to Ukraine, and the stalemate is putting the future of U.S. military assistance to Kyiv at risk as Russia's invasion of Ukraine nears the two-year mark.

Democrats have "ceded the ground to Republicans on immigration and the border," said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrant rights. "The administration seems to see no advantage in leading on this issue, but I think that they're shooting themselves in the foot."

The intractable nature of immigration debates is coming into sharp relief this week as a bipartisan group of senators tasked with finding a border deal is running out of time to reach an agreement. The Senate on Wednesday failed to advance a nearly $106 billion emergency spending request from Biden to cover national security needs including Ukraine, Israel and the border. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is an unwavering backer of Ukraine yet has stressed privately to President Joe Biden that the administration will need to bend on border policy to unlock that money.

In remarks at the White House on Wednesday, Biden made it clear that he was prepared to agree to at least some of the changes Republicans are seeking.

"I am willing to make significant compromises on the border," he said. "We need to fix the broken border system. It is broken."

Behind closed doors, Democrats have resisted demands from Republicans to scale back Biden's executive powers to temporarily admit certain migrants into the country. Yet Democrats privately appear willing to concede to GOP negotiators in other areas, particularly on making it tougher for asylum-seekers to clear an initial bar before their legal proceedings can continue in the United States.

That's a shift in favor of Republicans from even last year: There were similar agreements around asylum among Senate negotiators back then, but that would have been in exchange for a conditional pathway to citizenship for roughly 2 million "Dreamers" who came to the United States illegally as children.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., a perennial negotiator on immigration, stressed that in "every Congress, the foundation for compromise changes."

"The Democrats have to understand we lead one of the two chambers on Capitol Hill," Tillis said. "They have to understand that we rightfully will get something more conservative than some of the deals that are negotiated in the last Congress."

Throughout the Senate border negotiations, the White House has remained visibly hands off, largely trying to replicate its strategy on previously successful legislative talks like those that eventually led to tougher gun restrictions becoming law.

But it's also no secret the border is one issue Biden would prefer to avoid.

Though Biden as vice president spearheaded the Obama administration's diplomatic efforts in Central America, the border specifically is one of the few issues that he did not manage during his 36 years in the Senate nor two terms as vice president.

As president, Biden's aim has been to adopt a foreign policy approach to the border, framing the issue as a hemispheric challenge, not solely a U.S. problem. Biden almost immediately after taking office unraveled some of former President Donald Trump's more hardline policies. And last year, he oversaw the end of Title 42, the pandemic-era health restrictions at the border that had made it easier to deny migrants entry into the U.S.

He has tried to broaden legal pathways while cracking down on illegal border crossings. But the number of migrants at the border, after an initial dip following the end of Title 42, has been climbing dramatically. Now, cities like Chicago, New York and Denver are struggling to manage the migrants who have been relocated to their cities, forcing Democrats in areas far north to confront similar challenges to those long faced by border states.

Inside the White House, deputy chief of staff Natalie Quillian — tapped initially to oversee implementation of Biden's signature laws, like the massive infrastructure package that just turned two years old — is now coordinating the administration's response to Democratic-led cities and states that have asked for help managing the influx of migrants.

"There is a fundamental shift in the Democratic Party on immigration" that has happened within the past six months, as the number of migrants in those cities has swelled, said Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow and director of the Migration Policy Institute office at New York University's law school.

Before, Democrats would bristle at any potential discussion over the border, particularly following Trump. But Chishti added: "That's no longer true. Their backs don't go up when they see someone saying we want to make some changes in the policies at the border."

Aides and allies to Biden have said the president is willing to accept new restrictions on asylum and potentially other Republican-led immigration policy changes, particularly as the numbers at the border continue to rise. His supplemental funding request, which seeks $14 billion for the border, would hire more asylum officers, increase detention capacity for migrant families and hire more immigration court judges.

There's now a backlog of more than 1 million cases, and it's only increasing. Some migrants are released into the U.S. and wait for years before they are told whether they qualify for asylum.

Arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border in August through October more than doubled over the previous three months as migrants and smugglers adjusted to new asylum regulations following the end of Title 42. Illegal border crossings were at 188,778 in October, down from 218,763 in September, which was the second-highest month on record.

The White House decision to lump additional funding for the border in with Ukraine assistance has given lawmakers, Republicans say, an implicit nod to negotiate policy changes that would otherwise make Democrats feel uncomfortable.

"The fact that they are trying to actually work and figure out what we can do to come up with border security tells me he understands the American people are getting fed up with their current posture," Tillis said of Biden and the White House.

Bolstering the GOP posture even further is a new House Republican majority that is largely resistant to continued Ukraine assistance, making the price of additional aid for the White House that much higher.

And unlike the successful gun talks last year — when Democrats wielded political advantage after mass shootings galvanized public calls for increased restrictions — immigration is largely seen as an issue that is being fought on Republicans' turf.

But in the Democrats' view, Trump and his hard-line immigration policies, coupled with antipathy toward Ukraine aid, continue to loom large, rendering Republicans unable to close any deal that would involve irking portion of their base that remain staunchly opposed to Ukraine aid and anything less than the hard-line policies they've already laid out.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., one of the chief authors of the 2013 immigration bill that never became law, said the U.S. immigration system, writ large, still needs an overhaul.

But "we can't do that right now in the context of this Ukraine bill," he said. "It's too complicated. It's too far reaching. And frankly, there's no reason to be attaching the border to Ukraine funding."


AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro and Associated Press writer Stephen Groves contributed to this report.