New Mexico communities bordering Texas hope to capitalize on cannabis sales

Believe it or not, Sunland Park, a southern New Mexico city with a reported population of just 17,000, has an entertainment district. The city’s entertainment district is currently home to an amusement park and a horse racetrack with its own casino and hotel. 

The city is so close to El Paso, Texas that it is oftentimes hard to tell where the two cities’ boundaries are without looking at a map. In fact, just north of the Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, is the Stateline restaurant, which has an El Paso address, but a portion of the restaurant actually lies in New Mexico. Across the Rio Grande from the racetrack are just a few examples of how El Paso blends in with Sunland Park. 

In one neighborhood there are a series of streets that start in New Mexico, but dead-end in Texas, making it nearly impossible to get to several houses in Texas without first traveling through Sunland Park. 

The seemingly invisible border between the two cities is one reason some in Sunland Park are excited about an expected influx of cannabis retail stores in Sunland Park after adult-use cannabis became legal this year. There are currently only a few operational cannabis dispensaries in Sunland Park, but according to some accounts, there are nearly 30 more companies looking to open for business within walking distance from both Mexico and Texas. 

While it’s abundantly clear that recreational-use cannabis is still illegal in Texas, there is a gray area when it comes to the legal status of cannabis in Mexico.

ICE guards “Systematically” sexually assault detainees in an El Paso detention center, lawyers say

Guards in an immigrant detention center in El Paso sexually assaulted and harassed inmates in a “pattern and practice” of abuse, according to a complaint filed by a Texas advocacy group urging the local district attorney and federal prosecutors to conduct a criminal investigation.

The allegations, detailed in a filing first obtained by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, maintain that guards systematically assaulted at least three people in a facility overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement — often in areas of the detention center not visible to security cameras. The guards told victims that no one would believe them because footage did not exist and the harassment involved officers as high-ranking as a lieutenant.

NMSU will go to online courses after spring break

New Mexico State University will move to online courses starting March 31, the day after the university’s extended spring break. NMSU President John Floros, Provost Carol Parker, Chancellor Dan Arvizu and other university officials held a meeting Wednesday afternoon to announce the decision and the next steps for the university’s community. The meeting allowed up to 1,000 people to call in or watch over web platforms. The campus remains open and about 1,000 students are still living at NMSU and eating in the student cafeterias, Floros said. Floros said the dining hall has been deep cleaned, the university eliminated the open salad bar and cafeteria workers are serving food behind glass. But, he said, as COVID-19 response continues to evolve in relation to the spread of the coronavirus, the dining hall may change to offering to-go meals only.

El Paso’s strong but wounded heart

Something clicks inside of me every time I land in El Paso. My shoulders make peace with my neck. I get off the plane and look for my cultural North Star: an actual star shape made of giant light bulbs on top of the Franklin mountains — mountains that hug the city like a protective mother nestling her young. Home, is above all things, a welcoming place. Many people say their hometown is hospitable or friendly, but El Paso’s warmth is a fundamental tenet that holds up daily life.

Greg Abbott invoked mental illness after the El Paso shooting. There’s been no indication that was a factor.

“Greg Abbott invoked mental illness after the El Paso shooting. There’s been no indication that was a factor.” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. Hours after a white gunman walked into an El Paso Walmart on Saturday and killed nearly two dozen Hispanic shoppers, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addressed a room full of reporters in the border city and expressed grief and support for the community. As high-profile mass shootings continue to erupt across the country — three of which occurred in Texas in the last two years — a reporter asked the governor what he planned on doing to ensure one doesn’t happen again.

During Trump’s visit, El Paso residents criticized his divisiveness — and lawmakers’ inaction on gun laws

EL PASO — The message here wasn’t subtle. And neither was the anger. Four days after a gunman walked into a Walmart and killed 22 people, hundreds of El Pasoans on Wednesday packed into a southside park just miles from the international border with Mexico to tell President Trump he isn’t welcome in this reeling border community. “We can’t sugar coat it anymore, [things] have gone too far,” Kylie Oliver said as she held up a sign that read ‘F**king do something!’ “We’ve tried to be politically correct but it’s time to stop. For me personally, it’s turned to anger.”

The tensions here underscored residents’ mounting anger and frustration about lawmakers’ seemingly intractable positions on stricter gun laws in a city still dealing with grief from what police suspect may have been a racially motivated massacre.

Temporary immigration detention facilities to open in El Paso, Rio Grande Valley

“Temporary immigration detention facilities to open in El Paso, Rio Grande Valley” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley are less than two weeks away from the scheduled opening of temporary detention centers that will each house up to 500 migrants who have crossed the border to seek asylum. The facilities, commonly referred to as a “tent cities,” are the federal government’s response to the ongoing crush of migrants, mainly from Central America, who continue to cross into Texas after traveling through Mexico. “U.S. Customs & Border Protection urgently needs to provide for additional shelter capacity to accommodate individuals in CBP’s custody throughout the southwest border,” CBP said in a written statement. “The overwhelming number of individuals arriving daily to the U.S. has created an immediate need for additional processing space in El Paso, Texas and Donna, Texas.”

On Thursday, a U.S. Border Patrol official who asked not to be named said the facility would likely be at the agency’s station in northeast El Paso near U.S. Highway 54.

House panel approves NM ‘sanctuary’ bill

A state House of Representatives panel approved a bill to bar local law enforcement agencies in New Mexico from enforcing federal immigration laws. The bill, which according to a fiscal analysis would prohibit state resources from being used against anyone “whose only violation is being in the United States illegally,” passed on a party line 3-2 vote in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee. The two “no” votes came from state Reps. Monica Youngblood of Albuquerque and Bob Wooley of Roswell. Both are Republicans.

Pearce: No ISIS camps across the border

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce is the latest official to throw cold water on a report of ISIS camps near the United States-Mexico border. It is the latest in a line of conservative stories claiming that terrorists are crossing the border between the United States and Mexico despite denials by officials. Pearce wrote on his Facebook to address the “media reports.” Many continue to ask for updates about the media reports highlighting the existence of ISIS terrorist camps near Juarez, Mexico. The same day that Judicial Watch released their report, we received a classified briefing on the subject and have continued to monitor the situation.