U.S. Supreme Court tosses cross-border shooting case back to lower court

The nation’s highest court on Monday sent a case involving the cross-border shooting death of a Mexican teenager back to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for reconsideration. 

That leaves the question of whether the teen’s family can sue the U.S. Border Patrol agent who fired across the Rio Grande and killed him unanswered.  

The case involves the 2010 death of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca during what officials called a “rock-throwing incident.” The teen was shot and killed by agent Jesus Mesa Jr., who was patrolling the banks of the Rio Grande in El Paso. Hernandez Guereca was on the Mexican side of the border, in Ciudad Juárez, when Mesa fatally shot him from the Texas side. 

The teen’s family initially sued the U.S. government, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security and Mesa, alleging the teen’s civil rights had been violated. A district judge dismissed the charges because Hernandez was a Mexican national and was on Mexican soil when the shooting occurred. 

An appellate court ruled in 2014 that Mesa could be sued in his individual capacity although the American agencies could not. Then, in April 2015, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Mesa, saying he was entitled to immunity because Hernandez was south of the Rio Grande when the shooting happened.  

The teenager’s family appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in October 2016, the high court agreed to consider the case. On Monday, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the 5th Circuit, ordering the court to revisit its previous ruling in light of other court decisions that have happened since.  

“The facts alleged in the complaint depict a disturbing incident resulting in a heartbreaking loss of life,” the court wrote.

Immigrants in detention centers are often hundreds of miles from legal help

One morning in February, lawyer Marty Rosenbluth set off from his Hillsborough, North Carolina, home to represent two anxious clients in court. He drove about eight hours southwest, spent the night in a hotel and then got up around 6 a.m. to make the final 40-minute push to his destination: a federal immigration court and detention center in the tiny rural Georgia town of Lumpkin. During two brief hearings over two days, Rosenbluth said, he convinced an immigration judge to grant both of his new clients more time to assess their legal options to stay in the United States. Then he got in his car and drove the 513 miles back home. “Without an attorney, it’s almost impossible to win your case in the immigration courts.

‘At risk’ audit list includes state Department of Homeland Security

The State Auditor released its annual ‘At Risk List’ of public entities that failed to submit their mandated audits on time. Three state agencies, four counties, four school districts, one college and ten municipalities failed to submit their annual audits. One entity had an audit opinion that found “significant problems with its financial statements” per the State Auditor press release: The Town of Estancia. State Auditor Tim Keller said in a statement why the list was important. “The ‘At Risk List’ helps policymakers and the public easily identify which entities are behind schedule or reporting financial information that often isn’t cutting it,” he said.

Obama’s lawyers ask Texas judge to rethink immigration order

The Obama administration has asked a Brownsville-based judge to rethink an order that requires the federal government to turn over the private information of thousands of undocumented immigrants. The May 19 order from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen asserted that the federal government’s attorneys intentionally misled the court during proceedings over the Obama admiration’s controversial executive order on immigration, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. The court order included instructions for the federal government to provide Hanen a list of the immigrants who benefited prematurely from DAPA. But in a filing Tuesday, the federal government’s attorneys said providing that list would jeopardize the faith the American people have in one of the government’s largest institutions. “Requiring (Department of Homeland Security) to produce ‘all personal identifiers’ and ‘all available contact information’ for approximately 50,000 individuals by June 10, 2016, could undermine public trust in DHS’s commitment to protecting the confidential information contained in immigration files and will create a significant burden,” the filing states.

FBI spy planes flew over Albuquerque

A Buzzfeed investigation found that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security flew spy planes over cities throughout the country—including Albuquerque. The investigation found that the planes were equipped with high-resolution cameras and occasionally devices that could track cell phones below. The FBI preferred small aircraft, mostly Cessnas. Many were ”fitted with exhaust mufflers to reduce engine noise,” according to Buzzfeed. The data on the flights themselves came from Flightradar24, a flight-tracking website.

Guv signs driver’s license bill into law

Gov. Susana Martinez signed the driver’s license bill into law Tuesday afternoon at a self-congratulatory press conference at the Albuquerque Sunport. The bill will bring the state into compliance with the federal Real ID Act. In brief remarks that lasted only a couple of minutes, Martinez said no less than three times that the law will end New Mexico’s practice of allowing driver’s licenses for those who are in the country illegally. At one point she outlined how that practice will actually change. “Under this bill no illegal immigrant can get a driver’s license,” Martinez said.

Feds give NM REAL ID extension

New Mexico received an extension on a waiver that will allow the state to comply with the federal REAL ID Act. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security gave the extension to the state on Friday after the state legislature approved a bill that would bring New Mexico into compliance with the controversial federal law while still allowing those who are in the country illegally to legally drive. The Associated Press first reported the news that the federal government granted the waiver. Gov. Susana Martinez requested the waiver earlier this week while in Washington D.C.

This comes after DHS denied an extension to New Mexico late last year. The department let the congressional delegation know that an extension would still be available if the Legislature and governor could come to an agreement before the session.

Study: Axing driver’s license law would cost state money, jobs

A study released Monday offers a new take on a now-old debate in the New Mexico legislature—driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. The survey, published by the Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, finds that removing the state’s driver’s license law would cost the state jobs and money. More specifically, the study estimates that the state would lose $38.5 million each year, along with drops of 3 percentage points in labor participation and 1 percentage point in employment. The study examined a proposal pushed by House Republicans and Gov. Susana Martinez over the past few years, though they are looking at a different proposal this year. “We’re looking at 1,400 jobs that are going to be vacant,”  co-author Joaquin Alfredo-Angel Rubalcaba told NM Political Report.

Fired up Sanchez criticizes media, governor

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, responded to Gov. Susana Martinez’ State of the State address earlier on Tuesday afternoon with heated words. And he didn’t save all of his frustration for Republicans. See Also: Gov. Susana Martinez’s State of the State Address

“Once again, for the news media, especially the television news media, let me make it clear once and for all: You don’t need a passport to get on an airplane in the state of New Mexico,” Sanchez said to members of the media. “That’s false, and those reporters who report that are wrong.”

Sanchez then referred to how an official from the federal Department of Homeland Security wrote a letter to the editor in response to a November Albuquerque Journal editorial that stated New Mexicans would not be able to use a state driver’s license to board commercial flights “later next year” because of the state’s noncompliance with the federal Real ID Act. The federal government, at that point, had not provided a deadline for when New Mexico driver’s licenses would stop being valid in airports.

Guv changes tone on DL debate, will push ‘right to work’ this session

Gov. Susana Martinez pledged Thursday to put at least two non-budget items on the call this coming legislative session. Speaking on a panel with members of the local business community, Martinez said she will allow legislators to introduce bills on changing driver’s licenses and barring mandatory union agency fees as a condition of work, sometimes called right to work. Martinez has made ending New Mexico’s practice of allowing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants one of her top priorities for five years. But she took a notable shift in her rhetoric about the issue in her comments at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, saying for the first time that she’d support a two-tiered system that still allows driver’s permits for undocumented immigrants. “An illegal immigrant should not receive a driver’s license that looks like mine or yours,” Martinez said.