4-H event moved from NM Expo to accommodate asylum seekers

Students are devastated after an annual 4-H event was suddenly booted from Expo New Mexico. That’s because the dorms at the State Fairgrounds are being reserved for immigrants seeking asylum.

The 4-H Horse School has been held in Albuquerque for the past 30 years. Now parents are outraged it’s being moved across the state on short notice.

“My daughter was in tears about this,” says Dr. Donny MacDougall.

Each year, NMSU hosts a 4-H Horse School for students from across the state at Expo New Mexico.

“Learning all aspects of horsemanship from grooming and tacking up and nutrition veterinary care,” MacDougall says. 

Typically, students would stay in the dorms at the Expo during the 4-day event, but that’s not the case for this year’s event that starts on June 3.

“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,” MacDougall says. 

Just days ago, parents received a letter explaining the camp would now be held in Las Cruces because the state wants to use the dorms to help with the rush of asylum-seekers entering the U.S.

“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,” MacDougall says. 

The Expo can house up to 240 people in the dorms. Frustrated parents think the state may have jumped the gun and now kids are paying the price. 

“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 though. They haven’t had time,” says Rodney Woods. 

They worry this horse school is just the first of many events at Expo that will have to be moved or canceled.

“The first waves of many waves unless our governing bodies do something to figure out how to control it in a better way,” Wood says. 

NMSU says so far, they have about 100 kids signed up for the camp. 

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. 

There are no asylum seekers staying at the fairgrounds yet.

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