State Allots Millions For Census Participation, Albuquerque Could Create Migrant Fund

Apr 23, 2019

New Mexico Invests Millions To Bolster Census ParticipationAssociated Press

New Mexico is launching a multimillion-dollar effort to ensure its heavily Hispanic and Native American population gets an accurate count in the 2020 census.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order Tuesday that draws on her Cabinet and advocacy groups to encourage participation in the upcoming census.

Lujan Grisham says the U.S. Census Bureau's new emphasis on counting residents via the internet and by telephone is likely to overlook people in remote, rural areas without reliable communication infrastructure.

State Demographer Robert Rhatigan says that could shrink New Mexico's annual, multibillion-dollar share of federal spending on health care, educational programs, transportation and housing.

U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Coordinator Sergio Martinez says the 2020 census takes a "self-response" approach.

Mail Carrier Fatally Shot In New Mexico, Teen Suspect SoughtBy Mary Hudetz, Associated Press

An on-duty mail carrier for the Postal Service was shot and killed in a New Mexico neighborhood after intervening in a dispute between a 17-year-old and his mother, police said Tuesday.

Authorities in Albuquerque were searching for suspect Xavier Zamora, who was accused of murder in a criminal complaint that says he shot the mail carrier Monday in the stomach.

The Postal Service identified Jose Hernandez as the victim, saying he was a 12-year employee.

Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement the shooting had shaken the city, where more than two dozen homicides have occurred since the start of the year.

Federal authorities have taken over the investigation because Hernandez was killed on his job as a federal worker.

Spurgeon referred questions about the investigation to the U.S. attorney's office, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

US Postal Service Says Mail Carrier Fatally Shot In AlbuquerqueAssociated Press

A U.S. Postal Service spokesman says one of its employees has been shot and killed on his mail route in Albuquerque.

Spokesman Rod Spurgeon confirmed for The Associated Press on Tuesday that mail carrier Jose Hernandez was killed while on duty on Monday. He referred questions about the shooting to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Albuquerque police say the victim was shot around 3:45 p.m. in front of a residence on the southwest side of the city. A suspect was not in custody.

Spurgeon says Hernandez had been a U.S. Postal Service employee since 2007. He was not certain how long he had been delivering mail in the area where he was killed.

Authorities Say Armed Border Group Moves From Private PropertyAssociated Press

An armed group that has been patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border has left their campsite in southern New Mexico after authorities said they were on private property.

Sunland Park police and security officers with a railroad company told members of the United Constitutional Patriots on Tuesday they needed to move their trailers and equipment.

Union Pacific Railroad said the group crossed its land to access the site and requested that the group not trespass onto its property.

Group spokesman Jim Benvie said in a social media post that the group will relocate and that operations will continue.

This comes after the group's leader was arrested last weekend on 2017 weapons charges. It also follows widespread criticism spurred by videos of the group stopping migrants who illegally crossed the border.

Senate Candidate Disavows Armed Civilian Border GroupLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

A Republican U.S. Senate candidate has disavowed an armed civilian group that has detained migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border following the arrest of one of the group's members.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that New Mexico candidate Gavin Clarkson tweeted Saturday that he condemns the group's "lawless activities."

Member Larry Mitchell Hopkins was arrested Saturday on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms.

Clarkson appeared in a Facebook video last month with members of the group, describing them as "honest, sincere patriots" performing a necessary service.

Clarkson said Monday that he believed the group was conducting passive surveillance on the border and not detaining people.

The group United Constitutional Patriots has posted videos on Facebook showing members detaining migrants, including children.

Clarkson said Hopkins lied to him.

Defense Funds Being Used For Arizona, New Mexico Border WallAssociated Press

The U.S. government is moving forward with plans to use military funds to build border barriers in Arizona and New Mexico.

The Department of Homeland Security issued waivers to environmental laws last week to build and replace 46 miles of barriers near Columbus, New Mexico, and 11 miles near Yuma, Arizona.

The barriers are being funded by the Department of Defense following President Donald Trump's emergency declaration in February.

Last month, the federal government announced it had awarded contracts of nearly $1 billion to replace short barriers with tall fences in those areas.

The southern border has seen an influx of immigrants over the last several months and officials say they expect to make up to a million arrests by the end of the year.

Migrant Funding Proposal Put Before Albuquerque City Council- Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

An Albuquerque city councilor is proposing a $250,000 emergency fund for the city to assist migrants released by the U.S. Border Patrol.

The resolution sponsored by City Councilor Pat Davis on Monday proposes funding a full-time Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs position for an asylum services coordinator.

If approved, the money also would fund contracts with non-profits, faith-based organizations and other groups to provide medical services, showers, clothing, toiletries and shelter for migrants.

The proposal follows a decision in Las Cruces for the southern New Mexico city to spend $75,000 on humanitarian aid amid an influx of international asylum seekers.

Citing local officials, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports that federal authorities have dropped off more than 1,700 asylum seekers in the city since April 12th.

Air Force Spends $125M Cleaning Up New Mexico Jet Fuel Spill- Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The Air Force says it has spent $125 million so far cleaning up thousands of tons of soil and millions of gallons of water contaminated by jet fuel at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque.

Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Correll briefed Albuquerque water utility managers on the project during a meeting last week.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Correll also reiterated the Air Force's commitment to the clean-up. He said drinking water wells are tested monthly and no contamination has been found.

The fuel leak — believed to have been seeping into the ground for decades — was detected in 1999.

While state and military officials say drinking wells are protected, community watchdogs are pushing for an independent review of the cleanup.

New Mexico Governor Posts Her First Appointments Online- Associated Press

An online appointment book is providing clues about who met with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham during her tumultuous first months in office.

Accessible on Monday, the schedule of daily events and meetings shows Lujan Grisham set aside time for Native American leaders, an ExxonMobile subsidiary and an investor in a proposed racetrack-casino.

Lujan Grisham scheduled time with state lawmakers from both parties as the Legislature approved teacher pay increases, gun control laws and energy reforms. A dinner was reserved for lead House budget negotiator and Rep. Patricia Lundstrom.

The governor's appointments included actor-turned-politician Steven Quezada and a call with President Trump's former secretary of homeland security.

Meetings apparently were held with political strategist David Contarino, former chief of staff to Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson.

New Mexico Utility Says It Will Be Emissions-Free By 2040 – Associated Press

New Mexico's largest electric provider says it's the nation's first investor-owned utility to set a goal of being 100% emissions-free by 2040.

PNM made the announcement Monday while gathered with dozens of state, local and tribal officials and students in Albuquerque.

The announcement comes as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and fellow Democrats in the Legislature push for more renewable energy investments and to adopt policies addressing climate change.

That includes a law passed during the legislative session that sets ambitious renewable energy goals. Utilities such as PNM must get at least half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That would jump to 80 percent by 2040.

PNM CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn says technological advancements and battery storage will help the utility meet that goal five years ahead of the state's schedule.

Armed Border Group's Leader Said To Have Assassination Plans- Associated Press

The leader of an armed group that has been detaining asylum-seeking families from Central America near the Mexican border said two years ago that he was training supporters to assassinate Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and billionaire Democratic supporter George Soros.

That’s according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.

The FBI declined to comment on why it waited to bring charges against Larry Hopkins following a search in 2017. His arrest follows widespread criticism after videos surfaced of their members carrying firearms and detaining groups of immigrants crossing the border.

Members of the group the United Constitutional Patriots say they want to draw attention to immigration violations and assist federal law enforcement in patrolling the border.

Hopkins made an initial appearance in federal court on Monday, two days after the FBI arrested him on charges of possession of firearms by a felon.

His attorney said he will plead not guilty at a hearing next week in Albuquerque. He is being held without bond.

2020 Could Disrupt New Mexico's All-Male Senate Lineage – Associated Press

A woman is knocking on the door of the ultimate boys' club in New Mexico politics, as Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver signals her interest in the 2020 race for U.S. Senate.

Toulouse Oliver was viewed Monday as a likely candidate for a seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Udall. New Mexico never has sent a woman to the U.S. Senate, though it has elected consecutive female governors.

An unabashed progressive, Toulouse Oliver registered a campaign committee last week with the Federal Election Commission. The Democratic nomination already is being sought by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján.

GOP Senate nominee Heather Wilson lost in 2012 amid a gradual Democratic electoral shift. Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich won re-election last year in a three-way contest without female or minority candidates.

Nevada Man Arrested For Lurking Outside Forrest Fenn's Home  - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Santa Fe police say a Nevada man with a history of stalking famed art and antiquities collector Forrest Fenn's family has been arrested.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Francisco "Paco" Chavez of Henderson was arrested in Nevada on Monday, two days after he allegedly went to Fenn's home.

According to jail records, he is being held in lieu of bond.

Fenn's 2010 memoir, in which he writes of hiding $1 million in treasure in the Rocky Mountain region, has drawn would-be treasure hunters over the years.

Police say Chavez was sentenced last year to three years of probation after admitting to stalking Fenn's daughter and adult granddaughter in order to find the treasure.

When reached by email, Fenn said he wished to remain "quiet" about the incident.