Rio Grande roars to life with runoff

This time last year, the riverbed of the Rio Grande south of Socorro was sandy, the edges of its channel strewn with desiccated fish. Even through Albuquerque, the state’s largest river was flowing at just about 400 cubic feet per second, exposing long sandbars and running just inches deep. This year, the Middle Rio Grande is booming, nearly ten times higher than it was last April—and it’s still rising. Running bank-to-bank, the river’s waters are lapping up over low spots along the bank, nourishing trees and grasses, replenishing groundwater and creating much-needed habitat for young fish and other creatures. This year’s high flows through the Middle Rio Grande come thanks to a mix of natural conditions, like snowpack, and also manipulation of the river’s flows from dams, diversions and interstate water-sharing agreements.

The grassroots groups helping asylum-seekers on the border

One morning this spring in the parking lot of a mall south of Tucson, Arizona, four people gathered around a gray minivan as the sun spilled into the still-cold desert air. Bags loaded with toys and stuffed animals filled the trunk of the van — donated by the Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans, one of dozens of humanitarian aid groups working to help migrants in the Arizona Borderlands. The donations were destined for an aid station for migrants in Nogales, a city that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border just 40 minutes south of here. This story originally appeared at High Country News and is reprinted with permission. Shura Wallin, a petite woman in her 70s with an animated face and boundless energy, has led weekly volunteer trips to the aid station, or comedor, for more than 20 years.

Armed vigilantes along border bring national attention

A group of armed, masked vigilantes who have held those crossing the border, including those seeking asylum, until Border Patrol arrived has brought national attention to New Mexico and the ongoing border debate. The far-right group which calls itself United Constitutional Patriots recorded members detaining men, women and children who crossed the U.S./Mexico border in New Mexico and broadcast it on Facebook last week. Their actions drew immediate condemnation from a range of New Mexico elected officials, including Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas, who said individuals “should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement.”

A spokesman for the governor’s office told NM Political Report they have been in contact with the AG, state police and local police about the group to stay informed. U.S. Customs and Border Protection wrote on Twitter, “#CBP does not endorse or condone private groups or organizations that take enforcement matters into their own hands. Interference by civilians in law enforcement matters could have public safety and legal consequences for all parties involved.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gavin Clarkson, meanwhile, appeared in a Facebook video with the group.

Temporary immigration detention facilities to open in El Paso, Rio Grande Valley

“Temporary immigration detention facilities to open in El Paso, Rio Grande Valley” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley are less than two weeks away from the scheduled opening of temporary detention centers that will each house up to 500 migrants who have crossed the border to seek asylum. The facilities, commonly referred to as a “tent cities,” are the federal government’s response to the ongoing crush of migrants, mainly from Central America, who continue to cross into Texas after traveling through Mexico. “U.S. Customs & Border Protection urgently needs to provide for additional shelter capacity to accommodate individuals in CBP’s custody throughout the southwest border,” CBP said in a written statement. “The overwhelming number of individuals arriving daily to the U.S. has created an immediate need for additional processing space in El Paso, Texas and Donna, Texas.”

On Thursday, a U.S. Border Patrol official who asked not to be named said the facility would likely be at the agency’s station in northeast El Paso near U.S. Highway 54.

Records reveal discussions about how state may monitor medical cannabis growth

The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) has until August to decide how much medical cannabis producers are allowed to grow at any given time. Until recently, Licensed Non-Profit Producers (LNPP) could have up to 450 plants, but in March the state issued an emergency rule allowing producers to grow five times that amount—or up to 2,500 plants—after a drawn-out lawsuit. Public records obtained by NM Political Report reveal some of the discussions between producers, patients and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office during the days leading up to the emergency rule. Many of those conversations were redacted due to executive and attorney-client privilege. But, the documents still shed light on the decision by DOH Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel to temporarily increase the plant counts.