Public defenders hit speed bumps in protecting inmates from COVID-19

The prosecutor made clear what it would take to keep a woman, twice accused of driving while intoxicated, out of jail. “It’s a Corona SALE a ‘BOGO’ buy one get one! She only has to do one of everything and it gets credited to the concurrent one,” senior trial prosecutor John Bernitz wrote in an email to the defendant’s attorney. 

Bernitz’s conditions were in response to public defender Earl Rhoads, who had asked why the McKinley County District Attorney’s office waited for more than two months to call for the detention of a woman who was already facing open container and aggravated drinking and driving charges from last year. In October 2019, the woman was accused of drinking and driving when a state police officer said he found her asleep in her running car, outside a gas station in Gallup. The original criminal complaint alleged that the woman admitted to consuming alcohol and parking at the gas station to “recover.” A state magistrate judge released the woman on a $1,500 bond.

What NM officials did, said in a whirlwind week of immigration news

The debate over enforcement of immigration law was front and center this week, with images of children separated from their parents and held in cages along the border in newspapers and TV news. The White House flip-flopped on its explanations and who was to blame, as shown by a damning video in the Washington Post. Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at stopping the same separations the White House said previously could only be ended by Congress. Even that didn’t stop the outcry, with critics pointing out that it would still allow family separations in some cases and that it would allow indefinite detention of families. While children would not be taken from their parents to be put in federal facilities, they would  be held together with their respective families until immigration prosecution could take place.

ICE enforcement surge makes some ‘live in constant fear’

Every morning before he leaves to go to work, Yalil scans the street outside his home to see if any unusual cars are parked outside. “If it’s something, we do have to plan not to go to work and stay the whole day home,” he said. Yalil’s little brothers, both still in school and born in the United States, are too young to understand why their family needs to be so cautious. But they’re instructed every day to never answer the door, “not even to the missionaries, the people who are talking about God,” Yalil said. “We just let them know they cannot open the door because my dad and my mom could be detained and we might not get to see them again,” he said.