US Attorney Pushes Back On Lawsuit Over Migrants, New Mexico Considers Checks On Gun Sellers

Aug 13, 2019

In New Mexico, US Defends Authority Over Parole Of MigrantsAssociated Press

The Department of Justice is urging a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by the state of New Mexico that seeks to halt the quick release of asylum seeking migrants into local communities without economic assistance.

In a motion filed Monday, Albuquerque-based U.S. Attorney James Anderson says that the Department of Homeland Security has discretion over the parole of migrants and agency resources.

The lawsuit by New Mexico and Albuquerque seeks reimbursement for humanitarian efforts to shelter migrants and challenges the cancellation of an immigration program that helped migrants with phone calls and other travel logistics as they sought out final destinations throughout the United States.

Anderson says there is no federal statute or regulation requiring assistance for asylum seekers when they are paroled into the U.S.

Progressive Group Backs Candidate In Senate RaceAssociated Press

An advocacy group for progressive policies and candidates known as the Working Families Party is endorsing New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver in the Democratic primary race for an open U.S. Senate seat.

Working Families executive committee member Andrea Serrano said Monday the endorsement is based in part on Toulouse Oliver's aggressive stances in favor of impeachment proceedings against President Trump and dismantling Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Environmental and health care policy also weighed in the choice.

The group operates a political committee in New Mexico and acts as a political party in some other states.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján is vying against Toulouse Oliver for the Democratic nomination to replace Sen. Tom Udall as he retires next year.

Prominent backers of Luján's campaign include Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the gun safety organization led by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Police Say Man Sought In Albuquerque Car Wash Killing ArrestedAssociated Press

Albuquerque police say a man sought in a July 23 fatal shooting during an altercation at a car wash is in custody.

Police say 22-year-old Jerred Holguin was arrested Monday evening following a nearly three-week search stemming from the investigation into the killing of 30-year-old Matthew Shaw.

Jail and court records indicate Holquin was sought on various charges in addition to a murder charge in the homicide case.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that tipsters identified Holguin as the shooter from video and that a police affidavit said Holquin called his mother the day after the shooting and told her that he had "messed up."

Online court records don't list a defense attorney for Holguin in the homicide case who could comment on the accusation.

Farms Turn To Technology Amid Water Warnings In Southwest USAssociated Press

Researchers and farmers across the U.S. Southwest are experimenting with drones, specialized cameras and other technology to squeeze the most out of every drop of irrigation water from the vital but beleaguered Colorado River.

The river has plenty of water this summer after an unusually snowy winter in the mountains of the U.S. West.

But climatologists warn the river's long-term outlook is uncertain at best and dire at worst, and competition for water will only intensify as the population grows and the climate changes.

Researchers say agriculture uses most of the river in the U.S. The problem is how to divert some of that to meet the needs of growing cities without drying up farms and ranches.

Experts say soil monitors, Wi-Fi, cellphone apps and farm weather stations could help.

Former Longtime White Mountain Apache Tribal Chairman DiesAssociated Press

A former longtime chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe has died at age 89.

Tribal officials say Ronnie Lupe died Monday.

Lupe served as the tribe's chairman for 36 years before leaving office in May 2018 after deciding not to seek a 10th term.

Prior to his long tenure as chairman, Lupe served in the U.S. Marine Corps and as a member of White Mountain Apache Tribal Council.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that Lupe "was a man of great compassion" and "a strong leader who did not shy away from challenging the federal government on many issues, but he did so in a respectful and tactful way."

Funeral services are pending.

A list of Lupe's survivors wasn't immediately available Monday night.

Seeking Safety, New Mexico Considers Checks On Gun Sellers - Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says her administration is considering whether to extend background checks on private gun sales to the sellers of firearms and not just buyers.

The first-year Democratic governor said that adding background checks on gun sellers might allow authorities to better track the movement of firearms.

The comments come as the governor convenes a summit of public safety experts Wednesday to address concerns about domestic terrorism in response to the Aug. 3 shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, that killed 22.

The summit of leading public security officials and lawmakers is taking place out of public view and includes an FBI briefing.

Lujan Grisham also expects state authorities to more closely study discriminatory hate groups in the region.

New Mexico Governor Names New Education Secretary By Morgan Lee Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has named a regional official with a national nonprofit group as the new leader of the state's public education department.

Ryan Stewart was introduced Monday during a news conference in Santa Fe.

Based in Philadelphia, Stewart is the executive director of the Partners in School Innovation mid-Atlantic region. The group focuses on increasing educational opportunities for low-income students of color.

He was previously head of the Philadelphia school district's improvement and innovation office.

The governor said Monday she has very expectations for the education department and that Stewart has energy and vision.

Stewart fills a vacancy created when Lujan Grisham abruptly fired the previous secretary, Karen Trujillo. The shake-up came as the administration deals with court-ordered mandates and a push to roll out extended learning times for students.

Republican Businessman To Run For US Senate In New Mexico - Associated Press

Federal records show Republican construction contractor Mick Rich is planning on making a second run for the U.S. Senate in New Mexico.

The Mick Rich 2020 campaign committee filed paperwork August 1 with the Federal Election Commission, opening the door for the Albuquerque resident to seek the GOP nomination.

The 65-year-old will face former Trump administration official Gavin Clarkson in the Republican primary.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján and New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver are competing in the Democratic primary.

All are seeking to replace Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, who is retiring.

Rich lost to Democratic U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich in the general election last year.

FCC Awards $2.5M To Bring Broadband To San Juan CountyAssociated Press

Rural and underserved communities in northern New Mexico will have access to internet service thanks to federal dollars.

The Federal Communications Commission announced Monday that it has approved nearly $2.6 million to bring broadband to more than 500 homes and businesses in San Juan County.

Amarillo, Texas-based Plains Internet will use the funding over the next decade to establish high-speed internet service for hundreds of residents.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement that the funding is another step toward closing the digital divide.

To date, the FCC has earmarked more than $21 million for New Mexico to bring broadband to more than 8,500 households and businesses.

Rural and tribal areas have been the focus of the funding.

New Mexico State University May Delay Opening New Dorm - Associated Press 

New Mexico State University's newest dormitory may not be open in time for the start of the fall semester.

The university said Monday it's notifying students who wanted to move into Juniper Hall of the possible delay.

Officials say all other residence halls will be ready for move-in day on Aug. 16 and students who had planned to live in Juniper Hall will be accommodated in other facilities until it's ready.

NMSU President John Floros says the safety and comfort of students is the primary concern and the university won't move anyone into the new dorm until the building is ready and a certificate of occupancy is granted.

Construction was initially expected to be done in July. The contractor also missed an Aug. 2 demand date set by the university.

New Mexico Confirms First Human West Nile CaseAssociated Press

New Mexico health officials have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in the state.

The Health Department said Monday a 42-year-old woman from Doña Ana County contracted the mosquito-borne virus and is recovering after being hospitalized.

New Mexico has had cases of West Nile every year since the virus migrated to the state in 2003.

There were seven confirmed cases in New Mexico in 2018, including one fatal case. In 2017, there were 33 cases, with one reported death.

Officials say mosquito populations tend to rise following increased precipitation during the monsoon season.

Symptoms can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. Officials say people with West Nile fever typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last from weeks to months.

FBI Seek Sex Abuse Suspect Awaiting Trial In New Mexico Associated Press

Federal authorities are searching for a defendant in a sexual abuse case who went missing from a halfway house in Albuquerque.

FBI officials said Monday that Jan Jay Moolenijzer was under strict pre-trial release conditions when he left the halfway house without permission on Aug. 5.

The 68-year-old's last known location was Tucson, Arizona.

Moolenijzer was arrested nearly a year ago in Albuquerque. He was indicted in March on four counts of aggravated sexual abuse stemming from incidents in 2001 and 2002 on tribal land in Cibola County.

According to the indictment, Moolenijzer, who is not Native American, is accused of inappropriately touching a boy under the age of 12.

The victim is a member of a tribe.

A federal warrant has been issued for Moolenijzer's arrest.

New Mexico School To Name Gym After Vietnam War Vet - Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

West Las Vegas Middle School is renaming a gymnasium after a Vietnam War veteran who died in combat.

The Las Vegas Optic reports the district's school board voted last week to name the gym after Jerry Flores, a Las Vegas native who died in Vietnam nearly two weeks before he was scheduled to come home in 1971.

Vietnam Veterans of America member Paul Salas says veterans had sought to rename the gym previously but no action was ever taken.

The board is now examining where it can create a wall of honor for service members who attended West Las Vegas schools.