KUNM

Marisa Demarco

Reporter

Marisa Demarco is a reporter based in Albuquerque, N.M. She's spent more than a decade in journalism, founding the New Mexico Compass, and editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. She covered poverty and public health until September 2016 when she became a general assignment reporter at KUNM. 

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New Mexico sent state police officers to patrol Albuquerque in May after a UNM athlete was shot and killed. Residents in some communities here raised concerns about over-policing and said their neighborhoods were being targeted. Officials said the state officers would be staying until around the Fourth of July. But as that exit date approaches next week, state police don’t have any idea about when they’ll be leaving.

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President Donald Trump just launched his re-election campaign, and he also Tweeted that starting next week, there would be mass arrests based on immigration violations. This comes as detention centers around the country are over-capacity and accused of violating basic human rights. Families in New Mexico are feeling the impact of that familiar and uncertain threat.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered dozens of state police officers to come to Albuquerque as part of a surge aimed at slowing violent crime after a baseball player for the University of New Mexico was killed in Nob Hill. Residents talked about the impact of their presence in a predominantly minority Southeastern neighborhood that they say has a history of being overpoliced.

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People in Albuquerque may think getting busted with a little marijuana results in only a ticket and a fine. But state police officers were sent to Albuquerque in May to crack down on crime, and they’re enforcing state law. That means there’s still a way for even small amounts of weed or paraphernalia to put people here in cuffs.

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People who apply for food and medical assistance programs in New Mexico got used to long waits, mysterious denials, and catch-22s of bureaucracy. But after years of litigation, wait times are way down and a notorious backlog of cases is pretty much cleared. The new Human Services Department secretary has his eye on updating tech to make the whole system easier and more foolproof.

The central question in a two-decade federal court case is whether New Mexico’s Human Services Department is distributing SNAP and Medicaid fast enough and to the right people. A new boss was appointed to HSD in January. KUNM heard from Secretary David Scrase about the changes he’s making.

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For years, there’s been a fight in court about whether the state of New Mexico is following federal law when it comes to distributing food and medical assistance to almost half a million people here. Advocates told a federal judge this week that the state Human Services Department is still illegally denying SNAP and Medicaid to some eligible families. KUNM spoke with Maria Griego Thursday, May 16, right after the court hearing in Las Cruces. Griego is an attorney with The Center on Law and Poverty, and she explained what the state is doing wrong.

Courtesy of Master Sgt. Charles Newman, aerospace science instructor

Thousands of students from around the U.S. are converging in Virginia this weekend for the Team America Rocketry Challenge. A junior ROTC team from Valley High School in Albuquerque qualified for the national finals of the world’s largest rocket contest and has a shot at winning thousands of dollars and a chance to compete internationally.

Marisa Demarco/KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 5/16 8a: All around the country, more people who are walking are hit by drivers in neighborhoods with low incomes and in communities of color. Here in Bernalillo County, one out of every five times there’s a pedestrian crash, it happens in the few square miles of Albuquerque’s International District. Residents say a big part of the problem is bad street lighting, speeding drivers, big roads, crumbling sidewalks, and not enough intersections or bus stops.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller got on a truck lift on Wednesday, May 8, and turned on a streetlight in the International District in a photo-op designed to announce that PNM will replace all of its streetlight bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs by the end of 2019. It’s still unclear when the area’s ongoing problem with broken streetlights and bad lighting will be resolved.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

At night, for long stretches of road on large busy streets and residential ones, it’s completely dark in Southeast Albuquerque’s International District. Residents say not having enough streetlights is an urgent problem, because it leads to hotspots of crime and more vehicles hitting pedestrians. Politicians failed to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for new lights in the area, leaving neighborhoods in the dark.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

There’s a part of Southeast Albuquerque that sees more than its share of people who are walking being hit and killed by drivers. In just five years, there were 26 pedestrian fatalities in the few square miles known as the International District—but none in neighboring Nob Hill. People who live in the district say a big part of this problem is broken streetlights that don’t get fixed, even though they’ve been asking for over a decade.

Courtesy of Maysie Bucklin

It’s been 50 years since Stonewall, a night when the LGBTQ community resisted a police raid in New York. It’s the catalyst for many Pride parades around the U.S., and in honor of that anniversary, students are throwing the first-ever Pride celebration in Las Vegas, New Mexico this weekend.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

For decades, people in a southeast Albuquerque district have been asking the city to light their dark streets. One neighborhood group eventually starting solving the problem by installing streetlights on their own.

So many people in America suffer long-term and dangerous illnesses that come from poor nutrition. A doctor and chef in the South Valley near Albuquerque are part of a team working on tasty solutions.

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