Balderas, other AGs ask DeVos to keep protections for students at for-profit colleges

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas signed onto a letter with ten other attorneys general asking Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to not change change protections for college students from for-profit colleges. The letter lists a number of for-profit colleges that were investigated and sued by attorneys general, many of which have since gone out of business. “I am urging Secretary DeVos and the Congress to protect New Mexico students from the great harm that is inflicted when these corporations put profits over people,” Balderas said in a statement announcing the letter. “I will continue to fight at the state level to protect New Mexicans from abusive practices that can ruin their finances and harm their families, but Secretary DeVos must act at the federal level to ensure federal protections for our students.”

The letter says that many of the for-profit colleges “engaged in a variety of deceptive and abusive practices.” The practices, the letter states, harmed both students and taxpayers. The attorneys general seek “new regulations and reformulating policies to help protect students and taxpayers.”

The letter comes even as the New York Times wrote about how for-profit colleges will likely benefit from those in the Donald Trump administration.

Udall, Heinrich calling for investigations in wake of Flynn resignation

Both U.S. Senators from New Mexico are calling for investigations into Donald Trump’s administration—for two separate scandals, both involving national security. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall signed onto a letter with ten other Democratic U.S. senators asking for an investigation into communications between Michael Flynn, the retired lieutenant general who was recently Trump’s national security advisor, and those with ties to Russian government officials. The letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions said an investigation is needed “to determine what General Flynn did, who knew about it, and when.”

Udall also previously called for an investigation into the influence of the Russian government on the election. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for an investigation into the handling of classified information. “We’ve seen a pattern of carelessness and lack of accountability from this administration that puts our national security and America’s standing in the world at risk,” Heinrich said.

Udall reads Coretta Scott King letter, after Senate blocked Warren from doing so (Updated)

Hours after Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was reprimanded for challenging the integrity of a fellow Senator by reading a letter from Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., New Mexico U.S. Sen. Tom Udall read the letter on the Senate floor without question. Later on Wednesday, new Mexico’s other U.S. Senator read part of the Coretta Scott King letter and criticized the Senate for their actions on Warren. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i715XvBCkio&feature=youtu.be

Tuesday night, Warren tried to read the letter before her senate colleagues. King’s letter  criticized Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions when he unsuccessfully sought a judgeship in the 1980s. In the letter, Coretta Scott King said she opposed his confirmation to a federal judgeship.

Trump’s travel ban is wreaking havoc on families, especially those with valid visas

President Donald Trump’s travel ban has torn apart Dr. Abubaker Hassan’s family. A few months ago, his wife, Sara Hamad, took their infant daughter Alma from their Detroit home to visit relatives in Qatar. Hassan is in his second year of an internal medicine residency program at Detroit Medical Center, an inner-city hospital that serves a low-income and minority community. He and his wife are citizens of Sudan and they’re both in this country on visas 2014 Hassan on a J-1 for work-and study-based exchange visitor programs and his wife on a J-2 for dependents. Together, they came to Detroit, where Hamad gave birth in September, making Alma an American citizen.

Udall, Heinrich skeptical of Trump’s SCOTUS pick

New Mexico’s senators, both Democrats, reacted to President Donald Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich expressed concern over the refusal of Senate Republicans to hold hearings for Merrick Garland, the nominee of former President Barack Obama. Because of that,  the U.S. Supreme Court has been one justice short for nearly a full year, after Justice Antonin Scalia died on Feb. 13, 2016. “After ignoring Judge Garland’s nomination for purely partisan reasons, Senate Republicans are already talking about changing the Senate rules to confirm Trump’s nominee if Democrats don’t simply defer,” Heinrich wrote in a statement.

After Trump order, NM colleges, universities urge affected students not to leave country

At least three four-year universities in New Mexico are telling international students affected by President Trump’s controversial executive order affecting immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries to not leave the United States. The University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology formally instructed international students from any of the seven countries to not travel outside the U.S. in the near future. Trump’s executive order temporarily bars those from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the country. “Citizens of those countries, who wish to return to the US, should not plan to travel abroad at this time,” UNM wrote in a news release Monday. In his weekly letter to students and faculty, UNM Acting President Chaouki Abdallah noted that Trump’s order affects “more than 100 individuals in the UNM community.”

On Sunday, NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers made a similar call to his students.

NM AG, Senators denounce Trump ‘Muslim ban’ order

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas joined 15 other attorneys general from around the country to condemn the executive order by President Donald Trump banning travel from certain Muslim-majority countries that caused confusion and outrage this weekend. Balderas was part of the joint statement, which included the top legal officers in New York, California, Pennsylvania and more. Other elected officials condemned the executive order. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall called the order “un-American” in a Facebook post Saturday. “Turning our backs on desperate refugees and essentially imposing a ban on Muslim immigration projects weakness, not strength,” Udall said in a statement Sunday.

Quoting Trump’s favorite book (his own), Richardson slams Trump’s deal-making

Former New Mexico Gov. and United States Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson slammed Trump’s deal-making as president in an opinion piece in the Washington Post Friday. Richardson said that Trump’s negotiating since being sworn in even violates principles laid out in Trump’s favorite book—The Art of the Deal, written by Trump (and ghostwriter Tony Schwartz). Negotiators should also keep as many options open as possible. “I never get too attached to one deal or one approach,” negotiator Trump writes in “The Art of the Deal.” “I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first.” President Trump, however, seems intent on closing doors before he has an alternative lined up. He wasted no time signing an executive order that marked the United States’ withdrawal from the ­Trans-Pacific Partnership.

NM Dems file legislation to blunt Trump’s impact

A local legislator’s bill to bar New Mexico law enforcement from imposing federal immigration laws is getting attention as a measure to challenge President Trump’s expected crackdown on illegal immigration. “Given the repressive potential coming from the Trump administration, I wanted to make sure our immigrant community felt safe and protected,” the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque, said in a recent interview. Hers is just one of several proposals sitting before the New Mexico Legislature directly reflect what’s happening as a result of 2016’s contentious campaign and the election of Donald Trump as president. State Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, for example, is carrying a bill that would require New Mexico’s electors to cast their votes to reflect the national popular vote. State Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, has a measure to eliminate “faithless” electors, or state electors who cast votes without abiding by their state’s vote totals.

How New Mexico’s U.S. Senators voted on Trump’s nominees

The U.S. Senate is working its way through President Donald Trump’s nominees for key positions. Republicans have generally been supportive of Trump’s nominees, with

a few  exceptions. Democrats have largely picked their battles over nominations, allowing some to sail through, while delaying others. NM Political Report will continue to track the floor votes by Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich on each of the nominees. When either of the Senators said before a vote, either in a statement or in a news story, that they would support or oppose a nominee, NM Political Report will indicate that.