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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT

  • Policy changes help drive US migrant crossings to new highs

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Complex forces are driving an increase in the number of migrant families and unaccompanied children coming to the U.S. Many say President Joe Biden's positions on immigration, whether real or rumored, have influenced their decisions. About four in 10 border encounters last month were with families and children traveling alone. It comes as policies in the U.S. and Mexico favor them staying in the United States while they seek asylum. The March total includes nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children, the highest monthly number on record. They are exempt from federal pandemic-related powers that quickly expel migrants without a chance for asylum.

  • New Mexico governor signs bill to require paid sick leave

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation that requires that employers throughout the state provide paid sick leave to workers. Signed Thursday, the Democrat-sponsored legislation ensures that employees accrue an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 64 hours of leave annually. The bill takes effect on a delayed schedule in July 2022 in concession to employers who argued that businesses already are under intense financial pressure from the pandemic. Democratic legislators argue the requirement is essential to ensuring public health and a stable workforce in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Effort advances to recall Cowboys for Trump founder

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state district court judge says an effort can move ahead to try and recall Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin from his seat as an Otero County commissioner on accusations of using public office for personal gain. District Court Judge Manuel Arrieta on Thursday ruled in favor of a group of recall petitioners who say that Griffin repeatedly abused his authority and should be subject to a recall election this year. Griffin called the allegations frivolous, baseless and politically motivated. He left the court proceedings abruptly to rejoin a county commission meeting and didn't return.

  • Man linked to 5 killings in 2 states makes court appearance

WOODBURY, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man facing murder charges in two states has made a court appearance as he awaits a possible indictment. Sean Lannon appeared by videoconference in Gloucester County, New Jersey, where he was charged last month with murder in the beating death of Michael Dabkowski. Lannon also is charged with murder in New Mexico in the slaying of his ex-wife and two of her friends whose decomposed bodies were found in a pickup truck parked at an airport. He is also suspected in the death of a fourth person found dead in the truck. Authorities arrested Lannon in St. Louis a few days after Dabkowski was killed. Lannon's attorney didn't comment after Thursday's proceeding.

  • New Mexico latest state to adopt medically assisted suicide

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed into law legislation legalizing medically assisted suicide. It's the latest state to provide a pathway for terminally ill patients to end their lives with lethal medication. The law requires patients to be given six months or less to live by two medical professionals, be of sound mind, and be able to take the drug themselves. Opponents fear diagnoses could be mistaken and insurance companies could cover medically assisted suicide instead of more expensive cures to an illness. New Mexico is the second state after New Jersey with a third or more of its population identifying as Catholic to legalize medically assisted suicide. Oregon passed the first such law in 1997.

  • Navajo Nation reports 15 new COVID-19 cases and 1 more death

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Thursday reported 15 more confirmed COVID-19 cases and one additional death. The latest figures bring the pandemic totals on the tribe's reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, increased to 30,213 with the known death toll at 1,260. On Tuesday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez announced the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 B.1.429 variant on the Navajo Nation, which came from a test sample obtained in the Chinle service unit area.  The variant was first identified in the state of California and has since been detected across the southwest U.S.  

  • Interior secretary steps into Utah public lands tug-of-war

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland is visiting Utah as she prepares to submit a review on national monuments in the state. Residents there have both staunchly supported establishing and increasing the size of national monuments, and fiercely rallied against them. Haaland is the latest Interior secretary tasked with making recommendations on where the boundaries lie. Her input comes after President Donald Trump's administration decided to downsize two national monuments in southern Utah. She is expected to submit a report to President Joe Biden after her meetings Thursday with tribes and elected leaders at Bears Ears National Monument.

  • Farmington man faces charges in Capitol riot

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A Farmington man has been arrested for what authorities said was his acknowledged presence inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. Authorities say Shawn Bradley Witzemann acknowledged during an FBI interview that he was inside the Capitol and provided investigators with videos he took while there. The FBI said Witzemann made his way to the building's rotunda and shot video until an officer told him to leave. Witzemann's attorney, Todd Bullion, said his client has done nothing wrong. Authorities said Witzemann travels to protests to provide live-streaming video coverage and takes part in a podcast called "The Armenian Council for Truth in Journalism."