Three of the state’s largest cities highlighted their opposition to Donald Trump’s immigration and border policies this week. The moves come as President Donald Trump has given more power to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to apprehend immigrants in the country illegally. The move appears to show wider enforcement against both those with criminal records and those without. In Albuquerque, the city council* approved a memorial reaffirming the city’s “immigrant-friendly” status. The move came in front of a packed crowd that included many who were unable to fit in the chambers.
A state House of Representatives panel approved a bill to bar local law enforcement agencies in New Mexico from enforcing federal immigration laws. The bill, which according to a fiscal analysis would prohibit state resources from being used against anyone “whose only violation is being in the United States illegally,” passed on a party line 3-2 vote in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee. The two “no” votes came from state Reps. Monica Youngblood of Albuquerque and Bob Wooley of Roswell. Both are Republicans.
The New Mexico Environment Department and its partners released their 2017 strategic plan for the Kirtland Air Force Base fuel leak in January. Over the course of decades, an estimated 24 million gallons of jet fuel leaked from storage tanks at the base. The leak was first detected in 1999. The strategic plan is only a “reference and planning document” and is not enforceable under any regulatory agencies. But it does include information that the public could find helpful, including conceptual diagrams of the leak, a map showing the locations of monitoring wells and drinking water wells and a timeline for cleanup.
Thousands of New Mexicans took part in the Women’s March this Saturday. Some traveled to the massive march Washington D.C., while others stayed closer to home and participated in marches and rallies in cities throughout the state. According to Vox, the rallies may have added up to be the largest demonstration in U.S. history. Democratic members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation marched in Washington D.C., the day after they each attended the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. https://twitter.com/Michelle4NM/status/822824672488288258
The numbers from around the globe are in, and it’s official: 2016 was the hottest year on record, again. According to independent analysis from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2016 was the third year in a row to break temperature records. The New York Times collected AccuWeather data for more than 5,000 cities, including Albuquerque, to illustrate temperature and precipitation changes. Albuquerque’s average temperature last year was 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, while precipitation fell 2.8 inches short of normal. Globally, the average temperature has risen by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1880s.
As Democrats gear up for a legislative session after retaking the state House of Representatives and expanding their majority in the state Senate, several members are looking at ways to increase New Mexico’s minimum wage. Two lawmakers have already pre-filed legislation to do so ahead of the session, which begins Jan. 17. One measure would double New Mexico’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $15 an hour by January 2018. Another more cautious bill ups the minimum wage to $8.45 an hour.
In a debate characterized by a negative tone not unlike the recent showdowns between presidential candidates, both candidates for New Mexico Secretary of State laid out their visions for the office. Democratic candidate and current Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver started by invoking the only reason the office is up for grabs this year in the first place. “We had a secretary of state who violated the very laws and ethics that she was charged with upholding,” Toulouse Oliver said. “I’m running to restore integrity, transparency and trust in the Secretary of State’s office.”
Former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, a Republican who beat Toulouse Oliver in the election for the office two years ago, last year pleaded guilty to using her campaign funds to fuel a gambling habit. Duran, a Republican, resigned from office, spent 30 days in jail and is currently on five years of probation.
The Republican Vice Presidential nominee will make two campaign appearances in New Mexico in addition to a previously-reported fundraising event. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who is Donald Trump’s running mate on the Republican ticket, will make an appearance in Albuquerque and one in Roswell, both on Tuesday. Pence’s Albuquerque appearance will be at the Sandia Ballroom at Sandia Casino at 1:00 p.m. In Roswell, Pence will appear at New Mexico Military Institute at 8:00 p.m.
It’s not clear if Pence will hold a fundraiser in Roswell as well as Albuquerque. The rallies will be the first public events by major political figures in the general election. Ahead of the primary, Trump himself held a rally in Albuquerque, as did U.S. Senator and then-Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.
The requirement that diesel-powered vehicles in Bernalillo County get bi-annual emissions tests is just about gone. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board voted Wednesday night to kill the three-year-old program because it wasn’t authorized by state law. Now, the city’s Environmental Health Department will send the board’s decision to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for formal approval to end the program. The department’s deputy director, Danny Nevarez, said it shouldn’t take too long—maybe a few weeks—for the EPA to give that approval. In the meantime, owners of diesel-powered vehicles still have to get their vehicles tested until the program is officially junked, Nevarez said.
When it comes to the court of public opinion, Mayor Richard Berry’s $119 million Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project down Central Avenue is in big trouble. Only 28 percent of the city’s registered voters support ART, while 79 percent say it should be put to a public vote, according to a poll by Carroll Strategies, an Albuquerque public relations firm. In addition, only 25 percent believe that ART will boost the city’s economy, and only 23 percent said they would use it after it is built.
This piece originally appeared on the ABQ Free Press website and is reprinted with permission. The poll also made it clear that pretty much everyone knows about ART. Of the 2,020 people surveyed, 87.5 percent said they were aware of the project, which would put dedicated bus lanes in the middle of Central and mostly reduce automobile traffic to one lane in each direction along a 10-mile stretch of the street.