The Trump administration hasn’t just fired up the anti-immigration rhetoric; it has changed the system of enforcement in myriad ways. Specific actions taken within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — which processes visa and legal residency applications — and the government’s enforcement arm, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, have drastically changed the landscape for undocumented and mixed-status immigrant families. Among the changes:
Prosecutorial discretion is gone. Under the Obama administration, immigration authorities were instructed to target the “worst of the worst.” ICE focused on arresting unauthorized immigrants who had committed additional crimes. Immigrants who had committed no crime other than crossing the border without permission were not targeted.
A top financial rating firm downgraded the status of New Mexico’s general obligation bonds, citing large pension obligations and Medicaid costs. A rating downgrade means it will be more expensive for the state to borrow money. General obligation bonds, or GO bonds, are used to finance capital improvement projects, like building state buildings. Moody’s Investors Service announced the downgrade from Aa1 to Aa2 Tuesday. Aa2 is the third-highest rating at Moody’s, below AAA and Aa1, but is still considered an investment grade rating.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Opponents of a U.S. Air Force plan to expand its flyover zone over the Gila National Forest will likely wait months longer for a draft environmental statement. Public comment is being taken during a scoping process by the Air Force under the National Environmental Policy Act. Residents of Silver City and Grant County were not included in public meetings last year, and some worried that it seemed the flights already had begun. Since then, retired Air Force Colonel Susan Beck, also a Silver City resident, has stepped in to get as much information as possible from the Air Force and bring it back to community leaders and residents. “One of the things to know is that, whereas we thought the draft environmental impact statement would be coming out this fall, we’ve just been told that it may be on at least a three-month delay,” Beck said.
In partnership with ProPublica, the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Rebecca Moss has the run-down on the new contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory. Last week the U.S. Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration announced details of the Triad National Security LLC, which will include the University of California, the Battelle Memorial Institute and Texas A&M University. Sami Edge with the Santa Fe New Mexican has a cool story about protecting rare plants like the Holy Ghost ipomopsis from wildfires. And it’s not an environment story, but if you read Julie Ann Grimm’s story about Forrest Fenn in the Santa Fe Reporter this week, you’ll be glad you did. To receive the NM Environment Review on Thursday mornings, sign up for our weekly email here.
The Trump administration has selected Tornillo Land Point of Entry, a crossing point along the Texas-Mexico border near El Paso, as the site of its first temporary shelter for immigrant children separated from their parents under the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson confirmed Thursday. The department chose the site in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, according to the spokesperson. The federal government will erect tents at the site to house immigrant children whose parents are facing prosecution for crossing the border illegally. Under the new “zero tolerance” policy, which U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in April, thousands of children have been separated from their parents at the border and have quickly filled Texas shelters. The Tornillo site will take in 360 children in the coming days and expand from there, according to the department spokesperson.
The City of Albuquerque agreed to a still-undisclosed settlement in a four-year-old lawsuit filed by the minor children of a man who was shot and killed by police. The agreement came Friday, just two days before a jury trial for the lawsuit was set to start. Three children of Mickey Owings filed a lawsuit against the city in 2014 after the U.S. Department of Justice included Owings’ death in its scathing report of the Albuquerque Police Department and its use of excessive force. A spokeswoman for Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller confirmed the city and the children’s attorneys agreed to settle, but she declined to provide details before a state district court judge approves the agreement. “The parties reached an agreement on the Owings case, which is one of the last few remaining cases still pending from the previous administration listed in the DOJ report,” the mayor’s spokeswoman Alicia Manzano said.
ORLA, TEXAS — After you head northeast on Ranch Road 652 from tiny Orla, it’s easy to miss the precise moment you leave Texas and cross into New Mexico. The sign just says “Lea County Line,” and with 254 counties in Texas, you’d be forgiven for not knowing there isn’t one named Lea. But the folks who are selling water over it know exactly where the line is. That’s because on the Texas side, where the “rule of capture” rules groundwater policy, people basically can pump water from beneath their land to their heart’s content. But on the New Mexico side, the state has imposed tight regulations on both surface and groundwater that restrict supply.
Yup, it’s hot. And dry, and smoky. And greenhouse gassy. Scripps Oceanography and NOAA announced this week that average levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 411 parts per million in May. That’s a new record. And their studies show that the rate of CO2 increase is accelerating. To read more visit here.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Royalty Policy Committee meets in Albuquerque today. While it isn’t a household name, the RPC was rechartered by U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke after the Trump administration made increased production of domestic oil, gas and coal the centerpiece of its energy policy. When companies drill or mine on federal lands, they currently pay 12.5 percent in royalties to the federal government and states. Because New Mexico receives the second-largest amount of federal royalty revenues in the nation, said Pam Eaton, senior energy advisor with The Wilderness Society, the state stands to lose significant income if that changes. “We have a committee that was pulled together by the Trump administration that’s really just focused on making those public lands cheap, easy and fast to drill,” she said, “so that companies can make the biggest buck possible.”
Three incumbent Democratic state House members lost in their primaries Tuesday according to unofficial numbers. In a Santa Fe area district, Carl Trujillo was perhaps the most embattled incumbent. A lobbyist accused him of sexual harassment last month, though Trujillo denied the allegations. He now faces an investigation by the state Legislature in accordance with the state’s new sexual harassment rules. Trujillo was beat out by former Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Executive Director Andrea Romero.