Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT
- BORDER-NATIONAL GUARD REQUEST
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell has renewed her call for Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan to deploy the New Mexico National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. The lone Republican member of the state's congressional delegation, Herrell has supported the border wall and tighter controls on immigration. In her latest request, she cited an increase in COVID-19 infections amid high levels of summer border crossings. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has renewed emergency powers that allow federal authorities to expel families at the border on the grounds it prevents the spread of the coronavirus. The governor's office says the National Guard has been working on pandemic-related missions.
- CLEMENCY-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has pardoned 19 people for convictions ranging from cocaine trafficking to domestic violence, bribing a witness and shoplifting. The pardons announced Friday represent the third round of clemency decisions for the Democratic governor who took office in January 2019. She has pardoned 50 people overall. Pardons were provided in four instances linked to violent crime for shooting into a dwelling, domestic violence, battery and aggravated assault. The governor's office says nearly all of the pardoned offenses date were from crimes committed a decade or more ago. Recommendations from the Parole Board for those pardoned were not immediately available on Friday.
- UTILITY MERGER-ATTORNEY
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An attorney representing an international energy company involved in a utility merger in New Mexico has been disqualified because of an alleged conflict of interest stemming from ongoing contracts with the state attorney general's office. A hearing examiner with the state Public Regulation Commission issued the order Friday, saying Marcus Rael can no longer represent Iberdrola in connection with the utility case. The order points out that the New Mexico Supreme Court has held that disqualification based on a conflict of interest claim should take place before any substantive hearings get underway. Hearings begin Monday on the proposed merger between the Public Service Co. of New Mexico and Iberdrola's U.S. subsidiary, Avangrid.
- PRISON ABUSE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A civil rights lawsuit says a man was brutally beaten by corrections officers in New Mexico and denied medical treatment at a county jail after guards mistook dentures for contraband. A watchdog group for improving prison conditions in the state filed the federal lawsuit this week on behalf of former inmate Marvin Silva. The New Mexico Prison and Jail Project says Silva was beaten by guards and released with severe injuries and no transportation home. Administrators at the Valencia County Adult Detention Center could not immediately be reached for comment. The jail's health care contractor declined to comment but said the allegations are being reviewed.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A legal battle is brewing in New Mexico over what power state education officials have over local school boards and what limits there are to that authority. The fight stems from the Public Education Department's suspension this week of a rural school board for opting to make masks optional for students when they return to class. The agency also has filed a complaint in state district court seeking the permanent removal of the board. An attorney for the Floyd school board says the state agency is overstepping its authority. He says the case goes to the basic tenant of education governance — that local officials know best about the needs of the local community.
- BORDER-DEPORTATION FLIGHTS
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Two U.S. officials say the Biden administration has begun flying some Central American families deep into Mexico as authorities encounter more families and unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The first flight Thursday fell short of its targeted number of passengers because of elevated COVID-19 rates among migrants. The officials are familiar with the policy change and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details weren't intended to be public. The Homeland Security Department confirms that it began expelling migrants by air to Mexico but didn't specify if they were Central Americans. This appears to be the first time the government has flown Central Americans to Mexico instead of their home countries.
- MINE WASTE SPILL-LAWSUIT
DURANGO, Colo. (AP) — The owner of an inactive Colorado mine that was the source of a 2015 spill that fouled rivers in three Western states has sued the U.S. government. The lawsuit filed this week seeks nearly $3.8 million in compensation for use of his land in the federal cleanup. The Durango Herald reports that Todd Hennis claims the Environmental Protection Agency hasn't paid him for using land near the Gold King Mine since the blowout. A EPA-led crew inadvertently triggered the spill during excavation work. It sent a bright-yellow plume of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals into rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The EPA didn't immediately comment on the lawsuit.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Thursday reported 43 new COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the fifth consecutive day. The latest numbers released by tribal health officials pushed the total number of coronavirus cases to 31,529 since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The known death toll remains at 1,377. The Navajo Nation reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and it covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.