Students who were looking forward to a 4-H event in which they would learn all about taking care of horses at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds in Albuquerque found out that they were booted from the location to make room for immigrants seeking asylum.
As KRGE reports, the 4-day New Mexico State 4-H Horse School, which was supposed to be held at Expo New Mexico, has been held at the site for 30 years, but the dorms the students normally stay in will be used to house the immigrants, forcing the 4-H event June 3-6 to be moved across the state to Las Cruces. The parents reportedly only found out about the change in venues days ago.
One parent, Dr. Donny MacDougall, said the event features "learning all aspects of horsemanship from grooming and tacking up and nutrition veterinary care.” He added, "My daughter was in tears about this. We were extremely disappointed when we have a quality facility like Expo New Mexico and the rug gets ripped out from under our kids' feet. A different venue is a challenge for a lot of parents. It will cost more money and be more difficult logistically to get the kids there.”
Another parent, Rodney Woods, commented, "I never expected it and I don't think they thought it through, and I hate to be too critical because of the problem that it is, but I don't think they've thought this stuff through. They haven't had time.” He added that he was concerned other events at Expo might suffer the same treatment, saying, "The first waves of many waves unless our governing bodies do something to figure out how to control it in a better way.”
KRGE reported on April 30: “The city says this was an opportunity to save money for the organizations that help the asylum seekers.” Mariella Ruyz-Angel, from the Albuquerque Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, said at the time of groups that aid immigrants seeking asylum, “Right now, many of these groups host asylum seekers at hotels and places of worship, and so as great as that is for right now, it's not something that is sustainable. It's very costly for these groups.”
Dan Mourning, General Manager of Expo New Mexico, said, "In accordance with our mission, this is what we do. When there's a humanitarian crisis, or any crisis of that nature, we're here to open our grounds.”
KRGE reports, “Officials say parents have until May 15 to get a refund if they can't make it down to Las Cruces. Expo New Mexico officials say as of right now, no other events are being moved or canceled.”
New Mexico State University describes the event like this:
The New Mexico 4-H Horse School provides New Mexico youth, parents, and adult leaders with useful information and skill development related to horses and horsemanship.
The program was developed to:
- Provide continuity and standardize educational information
- Support volunteer leader efforts
- Help train junior 4-H leaders
- Strengthen the educational value of county or club 4-H Horse project opportunities.
The available facilities provide a unique opportunity for the youth, parents, leaders, and instructors to be close together and concentrate on horses and horsemanship for one week. Everyone stays and eats at the youth hall dormitory at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. There are three outdoor arenas and two indoor arenas, plus over two hundred stalls. This allows the school to do riding at night. Staying together and working close together builds a comradeship among the youth, leaders, and instructors. With the number of arenas available, the number of students per instructor is small.