Immigrant advocates say SW detention camps pose toxic threats

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Groups advocating for the rights of children and families detained at the southern border are using the Freedom of Information Act to find out exactly where the Trump administration plans to build migrant detention centers on two military bases in the Southwest. The centers are planned for Fort Bliss and Goodfellow Air Force Base to house immigrants until their cases are resolved. Both sites are known to have toxic waste threats. The Southwest Environmental Center has joined Earthjustice in requesting information on the location of those detention camps. Attorney David Baake with Southwest Environmental Center said Fort Bliss has Superfund sites – polluted locations that require long-term cleanup of hazardous material contamination.

Democratic ex-governor Apodaca endorses Pearce

On Sunday, former governor Jerry Apodaca, a Democrat, endorsed Steve Pearce for governor. Pearce is the Republican nominee. In an Albuquerque Journal op-ed,  Apodaca did not mention any of Pearce’s policies. Rather, he wrote that Pearce responded to his request to speak with each of the candidates. He said he did not hear from Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democratic candidate.

NM Environment Review: San Augustin Plains Ranch, drought (& more drought) and a “Hothouse Earth”

-In High Country News, Cally Carswell of Santa Fe pondered climate change and New Mexico’s future. You can read her essay, “Drought, dread and family in the American Southwest” here. -Cody Hooks with the Taos News is taking a three-part look at drought in New Mexico. His first story is on the state’s water planning process. -If you missed it a few days ago, New Mexico State Engineer Tom Blaine dismissed the Augustin Plains Ranch water application as “speculative.” Locals are happy, though wary, and the company called the move “short-sighted.” Here’s the story. At NMPR, we also wrote about drought and El Niño. (And found Gov. Susana Martinez still hadn’t convened the state’s Drought Task Force.)
-Ryan Lowery with the Las Vegas Optic reported on a land-access dispute in northern New Mexico involving the State Land Office.

NM grandmother recognized for one-woman fight for clean air

AZTEC, N.M. – A New Mexico woman who has spent her life in the San Juan Basin near hundreds of oil and gas wells says she’ll continue her fight for a cleaner environment despite her own health issues. Shirley McNall is profiled in a report by the group Moms Clean Air Force about the consequences of living near oil and gas drilling. In the town of Aztec, McNall takes journalists and other visitors on what she calls a “Toxic Tour of Hell” in northwest New Mexico, which she said includes residential neighborhoods dotted with leaky gas tanks, oil on the ground, fumes venting into the air and nonstop compressor noise. McNall said it’s important to demonstrate to others what many people live with, “to show ’em how we live, all over the United States now, with these dangerous little industrial sites right next to our homes and our schools and our churches. Aztec has over 110 gas wells in our little town.”

When trust counts: 2020 Census may leave fast-growing southern N.M. short

According to the state tourism bureau, Sunland Park is one of the last towns of the Old West, tucked below the commanding peak of Mt. Cristo Rey, a slender finger of southern New Mexico between El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. To the pride of city government, Sunland Park is one of the safest places in New Mexico, a fast-growing community of 16,500 and the largest border city in the state. In the dry, bureaucratic language of the U.S. Census Bureau, Sunland Park is simply one of the hardest-to-count tracts in the entire country. That characterization, however, is based on response rates from the 2010 census and may hardly still be applicable.

NM Environment Review: Rigs up, skiing out and SF Farmers Market celebrating ’50’

-New Mexico’s rig count has reached an all-time high, and 101 of the 103 rigs currently drilling new wells are in the Permian Basin. Last year at this time, there were 57 active rigs in the state. -Andrew Oxford has a story at the Santa Fe New Mexican about the aftermath of the Ute Park Fire. According to his story:
The flames of the Ute Park Fire, which burned around 37,000 acres in this rural part of the state, were extinguished in mid-June, but communities are still grappling with strained water systems, the prospect of flash flooding and the hit to tourism. -Sandia Peak Ski Company knows it’s in for more snowless winters.

NM state law, the U.S. Supreme Court and abortion access

Reproductive healthcare and abortion access may be profoundly personal decisions, but changes to public policy in New Mexico could generate repercussions that extend far beyond the most private experiences of women across the state. According to recent analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, nearly one-in-four women in the United States have had or will have an abortion by age 45. And since Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced in June that he would retire July 31, attention to a 50-year-old New Mexico law has intensified. Dormant since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, the statute would go back into effect if Roe is overturned, meaning anyone who performs an abortion in New Mexico could be charged with a 4th-degree felony. Read this story’s companion piece, “Midterms could be key, with New Mexico’s abortion rights protections at a crossroads,” here. 

The social stigma attached to abortion means that many people don’t talk about it openly, said Planned Parenthood of New Mexico CEO Vicki Cowart in a recent interview, but there are millions of women for whom it has played a part in their personal and family histories.

Border cleaves husband from wife – and a father from his children

EL PASO, Texas and VALLE DE JUÁREZ, Mexico – Gabriela Castañeda and Adrián Hernández were lovestruck teenagers when, in 2002, they crossed the border to start a life together far from the violence-plagued valley east of Ciudad Juárez. They never imagined the border would one day keep them apart. The two made a home for themselves in a colonia east of El Paso — Adrián working construction for big U.S. homebuilders, Gabriela keeping house and raising their growing family. But driving long distances to work left Adrián exposed. He picked up traffic violations that led to deportations.

Top Interior officials ordered parks to end science policy, emails show

As deputy director of the National Park Service, Michael Reynolds played a key role in developing a sweeping new vision for managing national parks. The new policy, enacted in the final weeks of the Obama administration, elevated the role that science played in decision-making and emphasized that parks should take precautionary steps to protect natural and historic treasures. But eight months later, as the first acting director of the Park Service under President Donald Trump, Reynolds rescinded this policy, known as Director’s Order 100. Newly released documents suggest that top Interior Department officials intervened, ordering Reynolds to rescind it. A memo addressed to Reynolds states: “Pursuant to direction from (Interior) Secretary (Ryan) Zinke, I hereby instruct you to rescind Director’s Order #100.”

Reynolds, now the superintendent of Yosemite National Park, did not respond to requests for an interview.

Immigrant youth shelters: “If you’re a predator, it’s a gold mine”

Just five days after he reached the United States, the 15-year-old Honduran boy awoke in his Tucson, Arizona, immigrant shelter one morning in 2015 to find a youth care worker in his room, tickling his chest and stomach. When he asked the man, who was 46, what he was doing, the man left. But he returned two more times, rubbing the teen’s penis through his clothing and then trying to reach under his boxers. “I know what you want, I can give you anything you need,” said the worker, who was later convicted of molestation. In 2017, a 17-year-old from Honduras was recovering from surgery at the shelter when he woke up to find a male staff member standing by his bed.