- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is now administering the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 to children ages 12 to 15. The move follow authorizations this week by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The New Mexico Department of Health is encouraging families to register children on the state's vaccine website. The expanded availability applies only to the Pfizer vaccine, which until now was only available to people ages 16 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for people 18 and older. State officials say more than 50% of eligible residents are now fully vaccinated.
- IMMIGRATION-HUNGER STRIKE
ESTANCIA, N.M. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center are suing a private prison company over the treatment of several immigrant detainees at the Torrance County Detention Center. The groups announced the lawsuit Friday. It centers on the use of pepper spray by guards last year as the immigrants protested poor living conditions and what they said were inadequate COVID-19 precautions. They also complained that updates on their immigration cases were being withheld. Detention center operator CoreCivic said it has followed federal guidelines regarding COVID-19 and that guards were forced to take action after the detainees became disruptive and ignored verbal orders.
- NEW MEXICO ATTORNEY GENERAL
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón has announced his candidacy for the office of state attorney general. The Democrat wants to follow in the footsteps of friend Hector Balderas, who is wrapping up his second term as New Mexico's top prosecutor and consumer advocate. They worked at the same law firm. Colón became the first person Thursday to enter the race for the open seat. Colón said he sees this as an opportunity to "take the next step." He said he is motivated by growing up poor in New Mexico and a desire to serve his community and protect families. Public safety is among his priorities.
- EDUCATION DEPARTMENT BIAS TRAINING
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Public Education Department is completing a mandatory, agency-wide diversity training this week. The agency says the mandate is a new facet of a plan to address an ongoing court order. A judge has reaffirmed the order to address inadequate education services for Native Americans and other students, including a recent ruling to provide fast internet for students unable to attend classes in person. The department says educators need to be able to provide services for students of different cultural, linguistic, and income backgrounds. Separately, school staff are required to take diversity training under the Black Education Act.
- HOMICIDE TRIAL-ROSWELL
ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — The trial of a man accused of murdering his wife and four daughters in 2016 has begun in Roswell, New Mexico. Juan David Villegas-Hernandez faces five counts of first degree murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, Cynthia Villegas, and four daughters Yamilen, Cynthia, Abby and Ida. They were found with gunshot wounds to the head inside their home in July 2016. The prosecution at the trial Tuesday said that Villegaz-Hernandez killed his wife and children after learning that she wanted to divorce him. Villegas-Hernandez's attorney called the crime horrific and heartbreaking, but he argued his client had no motive and prosecutors don't have the evidence to implicate him.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Demonstrating their allegiance to Donald Trump, Republicans have elected Rep. Elise Stefanik to a House leadership post. The New Yorker's elevation highlights how a party whose lodestar has long been conservative policies increasingly views devotion to the former president as indispensable to electoral success. Stefanik is a Trump stalwart, and on Friday she was elected to the No. 3 leadership job that until this week belonged to Rep. Liz Cheney. Republicans tossed the Wyoming Republican from that post for continually calling out Trump for helping spur the violent Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and relentlessly pushing his false claims that voting fraud caused his November reelection defeat.
President Joe Biden meets Friday with six young immigrants who benefitted from an Obama-era policy that protected those brought to the U.S. illegally as children. This comes as he looks to turn attention on overhauling the nation's immigration laws, an issue he has made scant progress on in the first months of his presidency. The Oval Office meeting with immigrants who used the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted in 2012 to legalize their residency, also comes as immigration has been largely left on the backburner while Biden has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic and pushing for massive infrastructure legislation.
BOSTON (AP) — A year after the pandemic canceled most proms, school districts around the country are considering whether they can once again hold the formal dance for seniors. Striking a balance between safety and fun, districts are requiring masks and booking outdoor venues like baseball stadiums or setting up tents. Some are requiring a negative test while others are encouraging attendees to get vaccinated. Still, there are plenty of districts that concluded proms remain too risky. School districts in Miami and El Paso cancelled their proms. In response, some parents and students are forging ahead anyways and organizing their own dances.