In wake of the deadly shooting in El Paso, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other state leaders met last week to outline ways of protecting residents from threats of domestic terrorism.
The Associated Press reports that state leaders met with the governor, prosecutors, Cabinet members and local law enforcement officials at the governor's office last week for a briefing by the FBI. The creation of a domestic terrorism unit was reportedly discussed as well as the prioritization of red-flag legislation that would make it easier for law enforcement to take guns from people who might be a danger to themselves or others. Lawmakers also proposed writing definitions for domestic terrorism into state statutes. This would allow for stiffer penalties against hate crimes and could strengthen the investigative power of the police.
Albuquerque Public Schools says it hired 446 teachers over the summer but still needs more.
According to KOAT, the school district still needs to fill around 180 teacher vacancies. School officials say this is an improvement, however. Last year, the district was short 220 teachers, and in 2017 it was short 300. Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein told reporters: “For the last eight years, our state has been cutting the education budget and we've been adding policies that make teachers not want to stay here.”
But she says things are improving under the new administration. New laws enacted this session have brought smaller class sizes, less testing and a 7 to 14 percent pay raise for teachers.
Last week, Gov. Lujan Grisham named Ryan Stewart New Mexico Public Education Secretary, placing him in charge of the state's Public Education Department. The previous secretary, Karen Trujillo, was fired suddenly near the end of July for failing to meet the governor's expectations.
Feds Defend Migrant Assistance Cuts
The federal Department of Justice is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the state of New Mexico that seeks to continue a program that offers assistance to migrant asylum seekers.
The Associated Press reports that US Attorney James Anderson filed a motion last week, saying the Department of Homeland Security has discretion over the parole of migrants and that there are no statutes requiring the agency to provide assistance to them.
The lawsuit, filed by New Mexico and the City of Albuquerque, seeks reimbursement for the shelter of migrants and challenges the cancellation of a program that provides assistance with travel logistics for asylum seekers looking for permanent placement in different parts of the country.