Vets in exile

In this week's Intelligencer, U.S. vets deported, education standards under fire, New Mexico falling behind, MLG's public health failure, Big Green's methane push, and President Biden's FEC approves foreign money in U.S. referendum campaigns.

The Intelligencer is a weekly newsletter that gives you a quick overview of La Politica across New Mexico and the U.S., covering topics such as policy, current events, the political landscape, and tech.

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Dax Contreras
Executive Director, Hispanos Unidos

1. Vets in exile

Details: About 1,000 U.S. military veterans — many of them Hispanic — live in foreign lands, and their return to the country they defended is in limbo because of their immigration status.

Background: Immigration legislation signed by President Clinton in 1996 (notoriously and aggressively enforced by President Obama) sought to deport immigrant veterans even if convicted just of a misdemeanor. Tragically, many of the veterans targeted for deportation were combat vets dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Notably in July, the Biden administration announced a plan to allow immigrant veterans who have been deported to return legally to the U.S., but this executive order can be changed by any future administration.

Dive deeperA new documentary scheduled to air on most PBS stations this week focuses on two honorably discharged Mexican brothers who fought in the Vietnam War. They now face deportation because of minor crimes.

2. Public comment on new social studies standards heat up


Details: Public school officials have been bombarded with comments and criticisms from both sides of the aisle. The social studies standards have not been updated in 20 years and will cover a wide array of topics. But the hot topic of the day is the battle over critical race theory (CRT) and its variants. CRT is a neo-Marxist analysis for power-building that includes exploiting racial conflict along with class conflict.

What they are saying: While some parents want to know more about what is being taught to their children, even school officials have their concerns, “It feels like it’s being rushed and I don’t know why,” said one superintendent. “Themes such as power, class conflict, struggle, geo-political impact, social justice, equity and diversity,” is being proposed as the new education. These, of course, are all socialist codewords peddled by the Democratic National Committee’s politicians.

The impact: For generations, America’s classrooms have been shaped by revisionist, politically biased and politically motivated schoolbooks, such as A People’s History of the United States, taught by openly partisan teachers acting as “change agents” instead of facilitators of knowledge. A Zoom-only public hearing will be held tomorrow, click here for more info.

3. New Mexico not recovering from MLG’s lockdown economy


Details: Ranked 49th out of 50 states, New Mexico’s “recovery” from the economic lockdown ordered by Governor Lujan Grisham is almost non-existent. According to a recent report, while others states are rebuilding their economy, ours is stagnant.

Why it matters: Although entrepreneurs and industries are trying to build their own success, the burden of gross receipts tax (GRT) is disproportionately felt by low-income individuals as well as small businesses and independent contractors. The GRT could be a determining factor in our behind-the-curve response, as it has been reported over a decade ago that GRT, “has created an economically stifling burden relative to other states.”

The big picture: Comprehensive tax reform, that includes GRT, is a much-needed policy position that both conservatives and moderates should be able to compromise on. But for radical Democrats and crony Republicans, the easy access to other peoples’ money is too tempting to let go. 

4. Governor Lujan Grisham’s public health approach is not working

Details: New Mexico jumped up to the top five-ranked COVID-19 new cases per capita even though we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation, and despite that we remain one of just six states with “an indoor mask mandate for public places regardless of vaccination status.”

Why it matters: While public officials have no answer for why this is, other experts have pointed to evidence showing the ineffectiveness of mask and vaccine mandates as well as the apparent seasonality of COVID. Needless to say, destroying small businesses and the overall state economy would also not keep the public safe from coronavirus.

The big picture: Meanwhile, the University of New Mexico has purged 256 students for non-compliance with a proof of vaccine papers deadline. While at the same time, state officials are pushing for vaccines on children ages 5-11, even though evidence makes a strong case that the risk to our kids’ health is not worth the potential marginal benefit.

5. Big Green politics fronted by New Mexico Democrats led by MLG


Details: The EPA is proposing new regulations following the lead of various states including New Mexico, California and Colorado, that mandate even stronger methane rules than the feds. Activists like Kendra Pinto, who works as a Four Corners Indigenous community field advocate for the well-funded national organization Earthworks, are pushing hard for these mandates. Pinto said President Joe Biden has made “repeated commitments” to the Big Green Industrial Complex.

Why it matters: While MLG brags in Scotland about her restrictions at the state level, the Environmental Defense Fund said one of the new measures in the EPA’s proposed regulations would encompass both new and existing oil and gas infrastructure.

The big picture: American Exploration & Production Council CEO Anne Bradbury said: "The methane regulations proposed today by EPA will likely result in significant new costs associated with compliance.” Meanwhile, even Biden’s Climate Czar, former Secretary of State and failed presidential candidate John Kerry, admits that these regulations won’t do anything to stop climate change. Meanwhile, American utilities are facing the highest natural-gas prices in years as they build stockpiles for winter.

6. FEC allows foreign money in U.S. referendum campaigns


The policy: The Federal Election Commission has ruled foreign donors can donate to U.S. referendum campaigns, potentially opening the proverbial floodgates to foreign spending that will directly influence U.S. voters and domestic policy.

Background: Under current law, foreign nationals are barred from donating to U.S. political candidates or committees. But in a 4-2 vote in July, the FEC ruled ballot initiatives are not "elections" under existing federal law and therefore the foreign donation prohibition doesn't apply. 

The big picture: There are already 61 referenda on state ballots in 2022 according to electoral research service Ballotpedia. Clearly, the FEC decision has the potential to affect not just policy initiatives, but the dynamics of the U.S. election system.