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US Prosecutors Geared To Target Border Crossers, New Mexico Catholics Undertake Easter Pilgrimage

Apr 15, 2017

US Prosecutors Are Geared To Target Border CrossersAssociated Press

Through Republican and Democratic presidential administrations, the top federal prosecutor on California's border with Mexico has resisted going after people caught entering the United States illegally on their first try and instead targeted smugglers and serial offenders.

That approach may face a day of reckoning under President Donald Trump.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' new directive on border crimes suggests prosecutors in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas will be forced to tow a narrow line.

Sessions says each should consider felony prosecution for anyone convicted twice of entering illegally and develop plans to target first-time offenders and charge them with misdemeanors, which could send them to jail for up to six months.

New Mexico Catholics Undertake Annual Easter PilgrimageAssociated Press

Thousands of New Mexico Catholics are making the annual pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayo, an adobe church north of Santa Fe.

Event officials say that it's been an ongoing Easter tradition for 200 years. Around 30,000 people journey to the adobe shrine annually. Some park near the shrine and walk a few miles to it. Other participants Fe walk about 30 miles (48.3 kilometers) to reach it from Santa Fe.

This year, 27-year-old Noah Martinez of Albuquerque says he walked 90 miles for the sake of his religion.

Once there, participants also collect dirt near the adobe church which they say has healing powers.

The Santa Fe Fire Department recommends participants dress in layers, wear light-colored clothing and bring plenty of water and snacks.

Game Over For Middle School Athletics In AlbuquerqueAssociated Press

Athletics are losing out in the competition for limited dollars as one of the nation's largest school districts prepares for an anticipated 2 percent cut in state funding.

Albuquerque Public Schools announced Thursday it's dropping its middle-school athletics program because of anticipated funding cuts linked to New Mexico's state budget crisis.

School district spokeswoman Monica Armenta said eliminating after-school intermural volleyball, basketball, and track and field will save up to $750,000 next school year and help avoid classroom cuts. Teachers would lose coaching stipends and short-term coaching contracts would be eliminated.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and the Democrat-led Legislature are locked in a standoff over how to fill a $156 million budget shortfall and protect the state's credit rating.

Navajo President Seeks Closure In Case Of Slain OfficerAssociated Press

The president of the Navajo Nation says he hopes the case against a man accused of gunning down a tribal police officer doesn't languish in the federal court system.

Navajo President Russell Begaye urged the court to move forward and bring closure in a statement issued Friday, a day after Kirby Cleveland was indicted on murder and other charges stemming from the March 11 shooting of Officer Houston James Largo.

Cleveland has yet to enter a plea and remains in custody pending trial. His arraignment is scheduled for April 20 at the federal courthouse in Albuquerque.

Officials say U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will decide whether to seek life or death if Cleveland is convicted of the most serious charges.

Begaye says the officer's family and the Navajo Nation are still mourning.

Energy Company Strikes $3 Billion Deal In New MexicoAssociated Press

Energy company ConocoPhillip has sold its assets in northwest New Mexico for $3 billion.

The Daily Times reported Thursday that a Hilcorp Energy Company affiliate purchased the property.

ConocoPhillip has been operating in the area for more than 50 years. The company announced intentions to sell last November.

According to the report, Hilcorp is one of the largest privately-held independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies in the country.

The company says it strives to support the communities it operates in by providing jobs, stimulating the economy and supporting local causes.

New Mexico Governor, Lawmakers Talk Without DealAssociated Press

Face-to-face talks over New Mexico's state budget crisis between Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and two top Democratic lawmakers have failed to produce an agreement.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said Thursday that the governor repeated ideas for solving a budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year that already have been roundly rejected by lawmakers. They include tapping more funds from school district reserves and reducing state pension contributions.

Wirth says he repeatedly asked Martinez for more details of tax reforms that she wants incorporated into a budget compromise but left without clear answers. The meeting included House Speaker Brian Egolf of Santa Fe.

Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan says lawmakers continue to shirk responsibility and dig in their heels over the budget. Wirth says the governor's budget vetoes have created a constitutional crisis.

Feds Roll Out Good News On New Mexico Water FrontAssociated Press

Federal water managers say snowpack in the mountains that feed the Rio Chama and Rio Grande were above average this winter, meaning water users downstream in New Mexico can expect a full allotment this year.

The Bureau of Reclamation outlined its expectations for water supplies and management along the river system that flows through some of the state's most populated areas during a meeting Thursday in Albuquerque.

The forecast is based on snowpack, soil moisture and climate predictions, but officials acknowledged it's still a best-guess and that things can change.

Bureau hydrologist Ed Kandl says this year looks to be the best in terms of water availability since 2008.

Snowpack in the Sangre del Cristos and other spots further south are below average thanks in part to a warm March.

UNM Dropping Men's And Women's Ski Programs Over Budget CutsAssociated Press

The University of New Mexico is dropping its men's and women's ski programs due to rising costs and impending budget cuts.

UNM Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs made the announcement Thursday.

The decision will save the school's athletic department about $600,000 per year in operating budget, scholarships and salaries.

The cuts will reduce UNM's sports programs from 22 to 20.

School officials say skiing scholarships will be honored through undergraduate degree or exhausted eligibility for any student-athletes that wish to continue their education at UNM provided they remain eligible in accordance with UNM and NCAA rules.

They say Lobo athletics will also assist any student-athlete wishing to transfer to another institution.