Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT

Jun 4, 2021

GILA BEND, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol says its agents in southern Arizona have rescued 26 migrants stranded in the mountains south of Interstate 8 amid rising summer temperatures. The agency said Friday the rescue took place Wednesday afternoon in the Tabletop Mountains near Gila Bend after one of the migrants called 911 for help. Temperatures had hit 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The Border Patrol's air rescue units and Arizona state troopers helped rescue the migrants, several of whom needed treatment for heat related illnesses. Border Patrol agents in the Yuma Sector this week found the remains of two migrants who died in separate locations.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's lottery scholarship program in the next academic year will cover full tuition for eligible in-state students at public and tribal colleges and universities for the first time since 2015. The state Higher Education Department announced Thursday that the scholarship will be funded at $63.5 million in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, a 30% increase, with the additional money coming from several sources. The scholarship paid full tuition for eligible students from 1996 to 2015 before it was reduced to levels as low as 60%. That was due to circumstances that included rising tuition rates.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Retired state Supreme Court Justice Edward L. Chavez will lead a public vetting of proposed New Mexico redistricting maps as chairman of a citizen redistricting committee. Chavez was appointed to the leadership role Friday by the State Ethics Commission. Districts are redrawn every 10 years after the Census count to adjust for population shifts. New Mexico will draw new maps for three U.S. House districts as well as the state Senate, House and Public Education Commission that regulates charter schools. The redistricting panel will hold a series of public meetings as it develops proposals. Its recommendations will be presented to the Legislature and are not binding.


BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge has rejected the Biden administration's attempt to delay a lawsuit from several states and environmental groups that would end sales for coal mining leases on federal lands. The coal program was temporarily shut down under President Barack Obama because of concerns about climate change. It was revived by the Trump administration, but there have been few sales in the years since because the use of coal has plummeted as utilities turn to cleaner-burning fuels. Environmentalists want to shut down the program permanently. A federal judge issued an order late Thursday denying the Biden administration's attempt to delay the case for another three months.


TIERRA AMARILLA, N.M. (AP) — A state district judge has declared a mistrial in the case of Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan. Court officials said Friday that the jury was unable to reach a verdict. The sheriff faced charges of harboring or aiding a felon and bribing a witness in connection with a 2017 incident. He was accused of helping former Española City Councilor Phillip Chacon evade police after a high-speed chase and telling a sheriff's deputy who witnessed some of his actions not to tell anyone. But Lujan's attorney argued that the sheriff had no knowledge of the charges against Chacon at the time.


CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico environmental officials say they're several months into an investigation to determine the extent of contamination at two Air Force bases. Environment Secretary James Kenney said Friday that the work is on track to be completed by summer 2022. The state sued in 2019, saying the federal government has a responsibility to clean up plumes of toxic chemicals left behind by past military firefighting activities. Similar contamination has been found at dozens of military sites across the U.S. New Mexico officials consider the contamination "an immediate and substantial danger" to the surrounding communities of Clovis and Alamogordo.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham revved up her campaign for reelection in 2022 with an opening rally at an outdoor museum amphitheater that was unsettled by the sound of protests just outside the venue. Chants, sirens and cries of "lock her up" threatened to drown out a series of speakers at the rally on Thursday. Lujan Grisham has been both praised and lambasted over the past year for a response to the pandemic that has included some of the most stringent public health orders in the nation. The last incumbent governor to lose reelection in New Mexico was Democrat Bruce King in 1994.


SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Biden administration has quietly tasked six humanitarian groups with recommending which migrants should be allowed into the United States to pursue asylum as it faces mounting pressure to lift public health rules that have barred people from seeking protection. The groups will determine who is most vulnerable out of those waiting in Mexico to get into the U.S. The criteria they are using hasn't been made public. Large numbers of people are crossing the border, and the government has been rapidly expelling them from the country under a public health order instituted last year during the coronavirus pandemic. Several members of the consortium provided details of the new system to The Associated Press.