- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Thursday reported five new COVID-19 cases and five deaths. The tribe had reported no deaths in three of the previous four days and six of the last 11 days overall. Tribal health officials said the latest figures bring the total number of cases since the pandemic started to 30,108 with the known death toll at 1,252. 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 covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
- IMMIGRATION-TODDLER DROP-SNAPSHOT
PHOENIX (AP) — A short, grainy video recently released by U.S. authorities captures the dangers for migrant children at the southern border. In it, a man straddles a 14-foot barrier near Santa Teresa, New Mexico. He dangles one toddler before letting her drop, then does the same to a second, slightly larger child. Then the smuggler and another man run off into the desert. Border authorities say the children are sisters, ages 3 and 5, and from Ecuador. They were found alert, taken to a hospital and cleared or any physical injuries. Thousands of children have been coming to the U.S. border in recent months, in February the largest number in nearly two years.
- MARIJUANA-CITIZENS GUIDE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has promised to sign legislation that legalizes recreational marijuana use and sales in New Mexico for adults 21 and over. The changes approved Wednesday by the Legislature mean almost any adult can grow marijuana at home for personal use — or for profit under a micro-license agreement. The reforms also usher in a new era for marijuana as big business and make fundamental changes in law enforcement. Many past pot convictions will be wiped off the books, and the smell of weed is no longer grounds for police searches.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A private Christian camp in northern New Mexico says it won't be sheltering immigrant children for the foreseeable future. A spokesman for the camp's parent company says the federal government is putting a pause on contract negotiations to house up to 2,400 migrants. The camp had been looking for volunteers and staff to help host children from the U.S.-Mexico border as federal holding facilities become more crowded. The crowding is part of the latest uptick in unauthorized border crossings in which thousands of children and families have been arriving at the border.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two Indigenous communities in New Mexico are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a revised federal rule that lifts protections for many streams, creeks and wetlands across the nation. The pueblos of Jemez and Laguna are the latest to raise concerns over inadequate protections for local water sources in the desert Southwest. The challenge follows a similar case filed in 2020 by the Navajo Nation, the nation's largest Native American tribe, and several environmental groups. Like other Indigenous communities, Laguna and Jemez say waters that flow through their lands are used for domestic and agricultural uses and are essential for cultural and ceremonial practices.
- MILITARY PENSION-DIVORCES
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Thursday that state courts cannot order a veteran to reimburse a former spouse for a share of the veteran's military pension under a divorce agreement that ended when the veteran opted to receive disability benefits instead. However, the justices' unanimous decision said trial judges can consider other legal options for adjusting the financial support the veteran provides his or her former spouse. The New Mexico high court partly hinged its ruling on a 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision. That decision prevented states from treating waived military retirement benefits as community property that can be divided in a divorce.
- OIL GAS PRODUCTION
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has reported oil and gas production increased by more than 10% last year compared to the year before even as demands for fuel dropped during the pandemic. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported Tuesday that data from the state's oil conservation division showed the state produced about 370 million barrels of oil in 2020 compared to about 330 million barrels the previous year. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association said the industry generated $2.8 billion last year. Although the state produced the highest amount of oil since production tracking began in the 1970s, officials said growth was down from a 33% increase between 2018 and 2019.
- CONGRESS-NEW MEXICO
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.