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

Jan 9, 2020

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Authorities say the number of people arrested or stopped entering the United States along the Mexico border fell for a seventh straight month in December, with Mexicans outpacing Central Americans among the detainees. U.S. authorities said they made 40,620 arrests or detentions of people on the Mexico border in December, down 5% from 42,651 in November and down 72% from a 13-year high of 144,116 in May. The Trump administration has begun a host of enforcement measures aimed at Mexicans, including a test to quickly determine asylum claims and deporting them to the central Mexico city of Guadalajara to discourage repeat attempts.


CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Environment Department is fining the U.S. Air Force nearly $1.7 million for not complying with rules aimed at protecting groundwater. The agency says Cannon Air Force Base let its groundwater discharge permit expire in March 2019 and has released wastewater despite not having a permit. The base did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about the allegations and the penalty. State officials are concerned because the base near Clovis is among those around the U.S. where contamination from past firefighting activities has been reported. The contamination is linked to chemicals known as PFAS.


WASHINGTON (AP) — A private border wall in South Texas could start construction in the coming days following a federal judge's ruling Thursday lifting a restraining order against the project. Judge Randy Crane's decision was the second federal ruling in two days in favor of border barriers. On Wednesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a lower court's stay that had prevented President Donald Trump's administration from diverting $3.6 billion from military construction projects to fund 175 miles of border wall. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Sheriffs across across much of New Mexico are opposed to a proposal from Democratic lawmakers that would allow police or relatives to ask a court to temporarily take away guns from people who might hurt themselves or others. Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton says the New Mexico Sheriffs' Association wants to ensure gun owners keep their due process protections. He says no compromise has been reached with lawmakers drafting "red flag" legislation for the session starting Jan. 21. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday threw her political weight behind red flag proposals. 


DENVER (AP) — Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association plans to close two of its coal-fired power plants and a coal mine in Colorado and New Mexico. The utility plans to close the Escalante Station in New Mexico by the end of this year. It also plans to close two units at the Craig Station plant in Craig, Colorado, and its operation at the Colowyo Mine in northwest Colorado by 2030. The closures will affect about 600 employees. That includes more than 100 workers in a rural area of New Mexico, where state and local officials began scrambling Thursday to identify options for replacing the lost jobs.


PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — Increasingly intense wildfires that have scorched forests from California to Australia are stoking worry about long-term health impacts from smoke exposure in affected cities and towns. In the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Paradise, California, where a fire in 2018 killed 85 people and destroyed 14,000 homes, researchers are tracking respiratory problems suffered by survivors and people in downwind communities. The work has far-reaching implications as climate change turns some regions of the globe drier and more fire-prone. Smoke from major wildfires can travel thousands of miles and affect millions of people.


NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors say jailhouse video no longer exists of the area around Jeffrey Epstein's jail cell on a day he survived an apparent suicide attempt. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan told a judge Thursday that jail officials preserved video of the wrong jail cell and that a backup system also failed to capture footage because of technical issues. An Epstein attorney says the missing video deepens the mystery surrounding his suicide weeks later. An attorney for Epstein's former cellmate has requested a court hearing to determine what happened to the missing video.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The mayor of the northern New Mexico city of Las Vegas has resigned two weeks after she was indicted on charges of bribery and accepting kickbacks. Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron announced the decision in a letter read Wednesday at a City Council work session. City officials say Gurulé-Girón had previously said she would not run for reelection. Prosecutors say Gurule-Giron was charged in December with six felonies related to abuse of power, bid rigging and offering and receiving bribes. Officials say she pleaded not guilty Monday to all the criminal charges against her. Officials say the criminal case against Gurulé-Girón alleges she pressured city employees to give contracts to her boyfriend's construction company.