Heinrich, Luján urge ICE to terminate contract with CoreCivic over Torrance County Detention Facility 

A group of six U.S. Senators, led by Senator Martin Heinrich, signed a letter urging the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to terminate its contract with CoreCivic for its operation of the Torrance County Detention Facility. The Democrats’ letter is in response to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General follow-up report in September that ICE had not fully addressed 10 of the 14 OIG recommendations to improve conditions at the facility. The OIG report recommended the detainees be relocated from the facility. This is the second time this year the OIG has made that recommendation. In March, the OIG released its initial report, based on a surprise visit in February, recommending the immediate relocation of detainees due to “inhumane” conditions.

Poll: Lujan Grisham approval rating at 46 percent

Slightly more likely voters disapprove of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s job performance than approve, according to a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling for NM Political Report. The poll found that 46 percent of voters approved of her job performance and 49 percent disapproved. Another 6 percent said they were not sure. This is a drop from a NM Political Report poll in June, which found 48 percent approved and an equal percentage disapproved of her job performance. 

Related: Lujan Grisham leads governor’s race by 8 points

Lujan Grisham is in the midst of a reelection campaign against former meteorologist and former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Ronchetti. The poll found that 39 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Ronchetti, while 46 percent have an unfavorable opinion and 15 percent said they were not sure.

GOP Senator introduces a federal abortion ban that would limit abortion rights in New Mexico, nationwide

South Carolina U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, introduced legislation on Tuesday intended to create a federal 15-week ban on abortion with few exceptions. Senate Democrats and reproductive advocates and experts denounced Graham’s efforts to ban abortion at the federal level at 15 weeks gestation. If the bill becomes law, it would not supersede states with greater restrictions, but it would restrict abortion in states, such as New Mexico, where there are currently no restrictions on abortion. 

While Graham’s bill would allow exceptions for incest, rape and maternal health, doctors in states with abortion bans already in place are often uncertain of what medically constitutes exceptions for maternal health. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, told NM Political Report through email that this bill takes away “American’s rights to make their own pregnancy decisions” and that it “is dangerous and needs to be defeated.”

U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján, a New Mexico Democrat, told NM Political Report through email that “you can bet Democrats are going to fight this ridiculous attempt for a national ban on abortion from the GOP.”

In July the nonpartisan fact tank, Pew Research Center reported that 62 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. In addition, 57 percent, or six-in-ten adults, disapproved of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June.

Senator Luján, HHS Secretary Becerra talk mental health in Las Cruces 

Democratic U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra listened to youth behavioral health professionals at a roundtable discussion held on Wednesday at Arrowhead Early College High School in Las Cruces. Luján and Becerra both made general remarks but mostly listened to the local professionals talk about challenges they see facing youth in New Mexico. Dan Green, the state survey epidemiologist supervisor, said that according to 2019 data, 40.4 percent of New Mexico children experience persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. He said that is higher than national trends. According to the 2019 data, 50.7 percent of girls in New Mexico were likely to experience sadness or hopelessness compared to 30.3 percent of New Mexico boys.

U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, creating public health emergency

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade Friday morning, creating what individuals working on the front lines of reproductive access in New Mexico called a “public health emergency” during a press conference Friday afternoon. Farinaz Khan, a healthcare provider, said every abortion clinic in four states closed by Friday morning. “As women and people with uteruses, we are second class citizens in our own country. Our patients will be deeply harmed by this decision,” she said. Many during the press conference stressed that abortion is, and will remain, legal and safe in New Mexico.

Poll: Lujan Grisham even approval/disapproval ratings

Just under 50 percent of New Mexico voters approve of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s job performance according to a recent poll commissioned by NM Political Report. The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that 48 percent of New Mexico voters approved of her job performance while an equal 48 percent disapproved. Another 5 percent were not sure. The numbers do not add up to 100 percent because of rounding. Lujan Grisham’s approval was higher among women than men, with 54 percent of women approving of her job performance and 54 percent of men disapproving.

U.S. Senators ask Biden to take executive action on abortion

A group of 25 senators, including Sen. Martin Heinrich, signed a letter to President Joe Biden this week urging him to take executive action to defend reproductive rights across the U.S.

The letter urges Biden to issue an executive order to direct the federal government to develop a national plan. The letter expresses urgency due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s likely plan to overturn Roe v. Wade this summer when it issues the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. The letter says that Biden has the “unique power to marshal the resources of the entire federal government to respond.”

The letter asks that Biden consider expanding access to medication abortion, provide vouchers for travel and childcare for individuals who must travel to other states for abortion care, establish a reproductive health ombudsman to gather and disseminate accurate reproductive information, guarantee Medicaid coverage for all family planning service clinics and clarify protections on sensitive information such as data gathered by some phone applications. The letter also encourages Biden to consider allowing abortion care on federal property, particularly in states where it will be restricted. Earlier this week Vice President Kamala Harris addressed a roundtable of faith leaders in Los Angeles and discussed, among other things, the need to protect reproductive rights.

Senators push for more funding for wildfire smoke monitoring

The western United States has experienced some of the largest fires in recorded history in recent years and the smoke from those blazes has impacted human health and the environment. Now politicians from several of the states impacted by the fires are pushing for increased funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to monitor wildfire smoke. Sen. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat from New Mexico, joined five other Democratic senators representing California and Arizona in urging the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies to increase the funding by $20 million to allow for a more equitable deployment of monitoring equipment. These senators sent a letter to the committee’s leaders. “The President’s Budget requests $12.7 million for the EPA to improve communications related to wildfires and air quality and to expand local smoke monitoring capacity.

Senate blocks effort to codify Roe v. Wade

A vote in the U.S. Senate to end the filibuster on the Women’s Health Protection Act failed on Wednesday. The Senate took up the issue originally in February when Senate Republicans filibustered the bill. To end the filibuster and allow the Senate to vote on the legislation, Senate Democrats needed 60 votes in support. With one Democrat siding with Republicans and a 50-50 party split in the chamber, Democrats lacked enough votes to try to hear the bill on the floor. The Women’s Health Protection Act would have codified Roe v. Wade in advance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s final decision on the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban expected this summer.

Advocates, elected officials and the public respond with rallies and outrage over Supreme Court draft decision on abortion rights

The leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the case that appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade woke up many on Tuesday to a “shocking” reality which may be imminent. Politico released on Monday a leaked draft document, dated February from the Supreme Court. The document is a majority opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case the court heard in early December. Because the document is still a draft, there is still opportunity for the court to rule differently in late June or early July, though it appears unlikely with the current makeup of the court. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito authored the draft, which overturns Roe v. Wade and rules in favor of the state of Mississippi in the Dobbs case.