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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

  • Democrats pick Melanie Stansbury to seek congressional seat

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic Party leaders rallied behind state Rep. Melanie Stansbury as the nominee to defend an Albuquerque-based congressional seat left open by newly confirmed Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. Stansbury on Wednesday edged out state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez by four votes in runoff balloting among 200 members of the state central committee on the nomination. The second-term legislator will confront Republican state Sen. Mark Moores in a June 1 special congressional election. Democrats have held the 1st Congressional District seat since 2009. Republican Heather Wilson won the district's last special election more than two decades ago.

  • Migrant families freed without court notice or any paperwork

MISSION, Texas (AP) — Overwhelmed and underprepared, U.S. authorities are releasing migrant families on the Mexican border without notices to appear in immigration court or sometimes without any paperwork at all. U.S. immigration authorities say court notices often take hours to prepare and describes the move as a way to save time. The rapid releases ease pressure on the Border Patrol and its badly overcrowded holding facilities but shift work to Immigration and Customs and Enforcement, which enforces immigration laws within the United States. When they get paperwork, migrants are now being told to report to ICE within 60 days.

  • New Mexico primed to join US recreational pot wave

SANTA FE, N.M (AP) — New Mexico's Legislature has approved the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older in a bill that the governor plans to sign, extending the legal cannabis market in the American Southwest by April 2022. The state House concurred with Senate amendments Wednesday to provide the Legislature's final approval. A companion bill would automatically erase some past marijuana convictions and reconsider criminal sentences for about 100 prisoners. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called a special legislation this week to push for legalization of marijuana in efforts to spur employment and a stable new source of state income. She is expected to sign the package of bills.

  • Biden plan would spend $16B to clean up old mines, oil wells

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's plan to transform America's infrastructure includes $16 billion to plug old oil and gas wells and clean up abandoned mines. Hundreds of thousands of "orphaned" oil and gas wells and abandoned coal and hardrock mines pose serious safety hazards, while causing ongoing environmental damage. The administration sees the longstanding problem as an opportunity to create jobs and remediate pollution, including greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Many of the old wells and mines are located in rural communities that have been hard-hit by the pandemic. Some sites have sat unattended for decades.

  • Authorities: Smugglers drop 2 children over US border wall

SANTA TERESA, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say two Ecuadoran children were abandoned by smugglers after being dropped over a 14-foot-high barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday evening. The toddler and her 5-year-old sister were unhurt, but officials with the U.S. Border Patrol called the incident near Santa Teresa, New Mexico, appalling. It comes as the Biden administration struggles with finding space to house the several hundred kids and teenagers who are crossing the border daily. In some cases, parents refused entry into the U.S. have sent their children across the border alone, hoping they will be placed with relatives eventually.

  • Navajo Nation has no COVID-19 deaths for 6th time in 11 days

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 15 new COVID-19 cases, but no deaths for the third time in the past four days and sixth time in the last 11 days. Tribal health officials say the latest figures bring the total number of cases since the pandemic started to 30,095 with the known death toll remaining at 1,247. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. The Navajo Nation reservation covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

  • New Mexico to open up vaccine eligibility next week

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico will expand vaccine eligibility on Monday to everyone 16 years of age and older. The federal government has directed states to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccination by May 1. Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said Wednesday that New Mexico will be meeting that mark a month early. While the pace of vaccination has been limited by supply, she said federal officials have indicated that states should expect "meaningful increases" in supply over the coming weeks. New Mexico continues to lead the U.S. in vaccine distribution. Nearly 1.2 million doses have been administered in the state so far.

  • Man sentenced for treasure cemetery dig in Yellowstone

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A judge in Wyoming has sentenced a man to six months in prison for digging in a Yellowstone National Park cemetery in pursuit of hidden treasure. U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl also ordered 52-year-old Rodrick Dow Craythorn, of Syracuse, Utah, on Wednesday to serve six months of home detention and two years of probation, and to pay $31,566 in restitution. Craythorn dug in the Fort Yellowstone cemetery in late 2019 and early 2020. Craythorn was seeking a treasure chest containing coins, gold and other valuables that Santa Fe, New Mexico, antiquities dealer Forrest Fenn stashed in the Rocky Mountains over a decade ago.