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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT

WESTERN WILDFIRES

  • FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Destructive U.S. Southwest fires have burned dozens of homes in northern Arizona and put numerous small villages in New Mexico in the path of danger, as wind-fueled flames chewed up wide swaths of tinder-dry forest and grassland and plumes of smoke filled the sky. More than 1,600 firefighters were battling six blazes in New Mexico and three in Arizona that have consumed more than 100 square miles of timber and brush. Just east of Santa Fe, New Mexico, ranchers and other rural inhabitants were abruptly told to leave by law enforcement.

BORDER-ASYLUM LIMITS

  • NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Biden administration has begun phasing out use of a pandemic-related public health rule that allows the expulsion of migrants without giving them an opportunity to seek asylum. The administration said Friday it has recently processed more single adults from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador under immigration laws, which include rights to seek asylum. Its acknowledgement came in a court filing in a lawsuit filed by Arizona, Louisiana and 19 other states that seeks to preserve the authority. The state of Texas filed its own challenge to the termination of the rule in federal court.

AP-US-SENATE-LUJÁN-NEW-MEXICO-EDUCATION

  • SANTA FE N.M. (AP) — Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Luján says Thursday that he's 90% recovered from his stroke. The 49-year-old spoke during a visit to Santa Fe High School, part of his first public appearances since returning to Congress in March. The stroke had put him the hospital in January and threatened to derail Democratic control of Congress. But Luján says he's back to working on the family farm and was able to walk in an Easter pilgrimage last week. He says voters, not his health scare, will decide when he might retire. In Santa Fe, Luján and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona spoke with students about their struggles with mental health.

AP-US-NUCLEAR-REPOSITORY-SAFETY

  • ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Independent federal investigators say there are significant issues related to fire training at the U.S. government's nuclear waste repository in New Mexico. The U.S. Energy Department's Office of Inspector General also found that firefighting vehicles at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant were in disrepair from years of neglected maintenance. Federal officials say they're making changes to address the issues. The repository is the backbone of a multibillion-dollar program for cleaning up tons of Cold War-era waste from past nuclear research and bomb making. The safety concerns come as New Mexico's governor and others voice opposition to expanding the types of radioactive waste that can be shipped to the repository.

CUBA IMMIGRATION

  • MIAMI (AP) — More immigrants from Cuba are coming to the U.S. by making their way to Mexico and crossing the border illegally. It's a very different reality from years ago, when Cubans enjoyed special protections that other immigrants did not have. The increase coincided with Nicaragua's decision starting in November to stop requiring visas for Cubans to promote tourism after other countries, such as Panama and the Dominican Republic, began to require them. U.S. border authorities encountered Cubans almost 32,400 times in March, according to figures released Monday. That was double the number in February and five times the number in October.

AP-US-PROP-FIREARM-SHOOTING

  • SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico workplace safety regulators say they have issued the maximum possible fine against a film production company for firearms safety failures on the set where actor and producer Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer in October. New Mexico's Occupational Health and Safety Bureau on Wednesday announced the nearly $137,000 fine against Rust Movie Productions and distributed a scathing narrative of safety failures in violation of standard industry protocols. Inspectors say production managers took limited or no action to address two rifle misfires of blank rounds on set prior to the fatal shooting. The bureau also documented gun safety complaints that went unheeded and constraints on safety training.

ELECTION 2022-REDISTRICTING-NEW MEXICO

  • SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state district judge has cleared the way for the Republican Party of New Mexico to challenge a congressional map that divvies up a conservative area into three congressional districts. The judge on Tuesday rejected a motion by Democrats to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the GOP and seven allied plaintiffs. The case will affect a congressional swing district in southern New Mexico where Republican Yvette Herrell ousted a first-term Democrat in the 2020 election. GOP attorneys argued that the congressional map approved by Democratic lawmakers dilutes the conservative vote and violates state constitutional rights to impartial government.

MISSING NATIVE AMERICANS-NEW MEXICO

  • ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal authorities are taking to the airwaves to call attention to unsolved homicide and missing person cases on the largest Native American reservation in the U.S. The FBI announced Tuesday that it is running a 60-second radio ad in the Navajo language to call attention to what family members and advocacy groups have described as a crisis that is affecting Indian Country. The radio spot comes as some states put more resources toward the reporting and investigation of such cases. New Mexico recently adopted legislation to ensure more effective coordination among law enforcement agencies, while Washington created a first-in-the-nation statewide alert system for missing Native Americans.