Report shows minorities driving rural growth in NM, rest of western U.S.

In the West, minorities are helping boost populations in rural areas, including in New Mexico. That’s what a recent report by the independent research group Headwaters Economics found. Analysts looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau and compared the populations and demographics of rural counties from 1980 to 2015. Nearly every county saw a growth in minority populations, echoing the shift in demographics of the nation as a whole. This trend is as pronounced in New Mexico, which already has among he lowest percentage of white non-Hispanic white populations, as in any other western state.

Organizing to improve ‘abysmal’ turnout in changing Roswell

ROSWELL — In southeast New Mexico, advocacy groups like Somos Un Pueblo Unido are making efforts to get the Latino vote out. Recently, we reported on Somos’ efforts to help permanent immigrant residents apply for U.S. citizenship and vote in next year’s elections. Getting new people to register to vote marks one big step, but it doesn’t guarantee they’ll actually cast a ballot. Those who say they want to make Roswell’s conservative politics more reflective of its growing Latino population stress that the ballot box is essential. Both Chaves County, which includes Roswell, and nearby Lea County are now majority Latino.

New Roswell businesses reflect increased Latino population

ROSWELL — Count Saul and Claudia Rubalcaba among a growing demographic that’s changing Southeastern New Mexico. Both came to the state 15 years ago from a town just outside of Chihuahua City, Mexico. As they settled into a new city, Claudia started working at a restaurant called Taqueria Jalisco while Saul worked as a plumber fixing sprinklers. Last year, the married couple got an offer from Taqueria Jalisco’s owners—move to Roswell and manage a new franchise on the south side of the city. “In the beginning we said no,” Saul explained in an interview on a recent weekday sitting with Claudia in a booth in their restaurant.

Flashback: NM county clerk resigned over same-sex marriage

New Mexico has been giving marriage certificates to same-sex couples since 2013, after a state Supreme Court decision said that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage certificates to same-sex couples. New Mexico was the 17th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Nationwide, same-sex marriage only became legal earlier this year after a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The opposition to the same-sex marriage has been signified by a county clerk in Kentucky who went to jail rather than give marriage certificates to same-sex couples. A federal judge ruled Kim Davis in contempt of court for failing to give such certificates despite numerous court rulings that said government workers cannot deny certificates to same-sex couples.

Thirteen years and counting: anatomy of an EPA civil rights investigation

SANTA FE—On June 26, 2014, Deborah Reade got a certified letter from the Environmental Protection Agency that was nearly a decade in the making. “During the course of the EPA’s investigation,” the letter read, “it was determined that additional information is needed to clarify this allegation.”

Reade was incredulous. Her original complaint to the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights, in 2002, seemed like a lifetime ago. Back then, she was research director for a group called Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping. She’d alerted the agency to a potential pattern of discrimination against Spanish-speaking residents by the New Mexico Environment Department.