Rev. Kathy Hudak speaks to a group of asylum seekers as part of the Rio Grande Borderland Ministries. She is presenting a video on the rights the asylum-seekers have.

‘The need is there’: Borderland Ministries helps migrants and asylum seekers

Ana Reza has served as bridge chaplain for the Rio Grande Borderland Ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande for about three years. The bridge chaplain moves back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico to greet incoming asylum seekers or immigrants seeking legal entry into the U.S.

“I do want people to know how grateful we are in everything we’ve done so far and we look forward to build new relationships and to continue to build the new relationships we have now,” Reza said. “The need is there.”

Sometimes Reza sees up to 900 people a day coming across the border. “It’s a lot of work. Pray for us that we be able to continue to provide a safe space because if it wasn’t for the shelters, Border Patrol would just drop them off at the airport and we see how that’s going,” Reza said.

Animal shelters continue to be in a crisis in 2022

Albuquerque Animal shelter anticipates 21,500 pets will have come through their two city-run shelters in 2022 by the end of the year. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Albuquerque shelters saw 17,000 to 18,000 pets arrive annually. Animal shelters across the country continue to be in a state of crisis. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than usual visited their local shelters in both New Mexico and nationwide. People adopted pets in response to stay-in-place orders, remote working and schooling and, some have said, out of a sense of compassion for the animals when the world seemed upside down.

Legislature expected to consider Paid Family & Medical Leave bill in 2023

A bill likely to come before the New Mexico Legislature next session will be another run at passing a state-run Paid Family and Medical Leave program into law but in 2023, the program will have some concessions to businesses as well as new expansions. Tracy McDaniel, policy advocate for Southwest Women’s Law Center, said a bill is expected to be introduced in  the 2023 legislative session. A Paid Family and Medical Leave bill failed in the 2020 and 2021 Legislatures. The 2022 Legislature passed a Senate Memorial to create a task force that would deliver a report on the issue and arrive at some compromises with the business community. A Paid Family and Medical Leave bill would provide up to 12 weeks of paid time off for employees who request it for a serious medical condition, caring for a family member with a serious medical condition or welcoming a new child.

Displaced coal miners, power plant workers ask for help with health insurance

Unions representing San Juan Generating Station and San Juan Mine employees asked the state for about $6 million in energy transition funds to reimburse displaced workers for the out-of-pocket health insurance costs they have faced since being laid off. The funds would come from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. This is especially important for the mine workers who lost health insurance at the end of the month that they were laid off. Power plant workers, on the other hand, have six months of health insurance following layoffs. Layoffs at the mine began last year as the facilities prepared to close.

Environmental assessment shows Chaco mineral leasing mineral moratorium would impact few Navajo allottees

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s environmental assessment of withdrawing federal lands around Chaco Culture National Historical Park from mineral leasing shows that less than a dozen Navajo allottees will be highly impacted by the decision. This is based on past analysis of where potential development could occur. The withdrawal is intended to protect sites that are sacred to the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico and the Navajo, or Diné, people. The process began about a year ago when Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo, issued a secretarial order calling for a 20-year moratorium on new oil and gas leasing near Chaco Culture National Historical Park. While less than a dozen allottees would be highly impacted, another 39 allottees could see moderate impacts from the withdrawal.