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.
Under President Donald Trump’s plan to send military troops to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would consult with the governors of border states to decide how many National Guard troops are needed. Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of DHS, made this announcement during a White House briefing on Wednesday. NM Political Report asked Gov. Susana Martinez’s office if she supports deploying troops along the border and if she had spoken with the White House about these plans. Her office did not respond by press time despite three emails to her public information officers. A spokesman did tell the Associated Press that she supported the move.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had an urgent question Monday about Devin Patrick Kelley, the former U.S. Air Force airman who is accused of killing 26 people worshipping at a church service yesterday: How was it that Kelley, convicted of domestic violence and discharged for bad conduct, was still able to get a gun?”
By late afternoon, Abbott appeared to have his answer: the Air Force said an initial review indicated it had failed to share Kelley’s criminal record with the civilian authorities, and so his conviction was never entered into the federal database used to screen potentially dangerous gun buyers. Federal laws bar felons and those convicted of domestic violence from obtaining guns. This story originally appeared at ProPublica and is reprinted with permission. The Air Force said it will conduct a full review of how it handled Kelley’s records, as well as all “relevant policies and procedures.”
However, the Air Force and the military’s other armed services have known for years there were widespread problems with their reporting procedures. A 2015 Pentagon report found the military was failing to provide crucial information to the FBI in about 30 percent of a sample of serious cases handled in military courts.
Texas wants to take its voter identification battle to the U.S. Supreme Court. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday asked the justices to hear his arguments about why the state’s photo ID requirements for voting do not discriminate against Hispanics and African-American voters. “Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy,” the Republican said in a statement. “Voter ID laws both prevent fraud and increase the public’s confidence in our elections. Texas enacted a common-sense voter ID law and I am confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately reinstate it.”
Texas officials say the voter ID law prevents voter fraud, which Gov. Greg Abbott has called “rampant.”
The state’s top elected official and top attorney are on opposite sides of a key immigration case in front of the United States Supreme Court. At issue is an executive order by President Barack Obama called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. The order would allow some 4 million immigrants to not only live without fear of deportation, but would provide a framework for a pathway to legal status. The order would only apply to those who have been in the United States for at least five years, have a clean criminal record and have a child that lives in the country legally. Those opposing the legislation say it is an overbroad order that should have gone through the legislative branch, that is Congress, first.
Susana Martinez will not return campaign donations from a man convicted of domestic abuse, a spokesman for the governor told the Albuquerque Journal earlier this week. Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, brought up the donations on Monday, days before the end of the legislative session. The news of Hiles’ domestic abuse and donation to Martinez was first revealed in New Mexico by New Mexico In Depth. Hiles also made significant donations to Advance New Mexico Now, a high profile PAC that helped Republicans take control of the House of Representatives. Hiles’ donations became an issue because the treasurer of Advance New Mexico Now PAC, Matthew Chandler, was in front of the Senate on confirmation to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents.