Military Bases May House Immigrant Children, Parents In Trafficking Case To Remain In Jail

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HHS considering housing immigrant children at military bases - By Lolita C. Baldor And Alan Fram, Associated Press, The Hill

The Health and Human Services Department is considering housing at military bases those children picked up crossing the U.S. border illegally either alone or after being separated from their parents by the government.

Two U.S. officials described the plan under consideration to The Associated Press. One official says the department is looking at four bases in Texas and Arkansas. The Hill reported one of the bases is Fort Bliss near El Paso.

That base’s Doña Ana Range Complex near Chaparral, New Mexico housed unaccompanied minors in 2014.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public or final.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is defending the Trump administration's practice of separating children from parents when the family is being prosecuted for entering the U.S. illegally.

Nielsen told a Senate committee Tuesday that removing children from parents facing criminal charges happens in the U.S. every day.

New Mexico High School Students Accused Of Changing GradesKVIA-TV, Associated Press

Dozens of students at a southern New Mexico high school are facing allegations that they hacked into an online program and changed their grades.

KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas, reports 55 students from Gadsden High School are accused of accessing an online computer program and changing their grades on their online courses.

The school said students in various grades gained access to the access code that allowed them to change grades on curriculum software called Edgenuity.

Officials say an investigation found that 456 different grades were altered.

The Gadsden Independent School District says five of the 55 students have been suspended, and the others have various options to rectify the coursework.

Officials say the investigation started April 19.

Police Says New Mexico Woman Hid Gun At Elementary School – Farmington Daily Times, Associated Press

A New Mexico woman is facing charges after police say she hid a handgun on the grounds of an elementary school.

The Daily Times of Farmington, New Mexico, reports Brooke Showers was arrested in Aztec, New Mexico, last week following an investigation by police.

A criminal complaint says the 25-year-old Showers told an officer she hid a revolver in a gun case on the grounds of Lydia Rippey Elementary School. Court documents say the officer found the gun with six rounds but it's unclear if the round were in the gun or in the case.

Showers was charged with unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon on school premise. No attorney was listed for her.

Aztec was the site of a deadly high school shooting that claimed the lives of two students earlier this year.

Brush Fire In Albuquerque Foothills Now 80 Percent ContainedAssociated Press

Authorities say a brush fire in the Albuquerque Foothills is 80 percent contained after coming dangerously close to homes near the Elena Gallegos picnic area.

Albuquerque Fire Department officials say the fire was reported shortly after noon Tuesday and crews had to fight 30-foot-tall flames.

The fire was contained at seven acres, but authorities say it caused minor damage to three homes.

The flames threatened 10 structures and caused 21 homes to be evacuated.

Authorities say the cause of the fire is not known yet.

More than three-quarters of New Mexico is dealing with severe to extreme drought including the Albuquerque area.

New Mexico Hospital Launches Pancreas Transplant ProgramAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

An Albuquerque hospital has begun offering pancreas transplants, a procedure that previously was not available in New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a medical team with Presbyterian Healthcare Services successfully performed the first pancreas transplant in the state last year.

Dr. Hannah Choate, the transplant surgical director for Presbyterian, says the procedure is not new but it's new to the state.

The pancreas produces insulin that's vital for the body in processing carbohydrates. When the organ doesn't operate properly, it can cause kidney failure and Type 1 diabetes.

Choate says the pancreas transplant program was developed over about two years.

Choate says Presbyterian expects to perform only two or three pancreas transplants each year due to the patient risks and the organ-screening process.

Air Force Base Begins Construction On Helicopter SimulatorAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The Kirtland Air Force Base is building a simulator facility to train pilots and crews for a new helicopter model.

The Albuquerque Journal reports construction on the $14.8 million project began Monday at the base in Albuquerque.

The three-bay simulator facility will be used train personnel from the 58th Special Operation Wing on the new HH-60W, a combat rescue helicopter that will replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk.

Air Force officials say the first of the aircraft to be stationed at the Albuquerque base is expected to be delivered by March 2020. The simulator facility is expected to be completed by June 2019.

Officials say the new helicopter model can deployed for evacuations, search and rescue missions, humanitarian aid, disaster relief and insertion or extraction of combat troops.

20 AGs Back Lawsuits By Family Planning Groups Against Trump - Associated Press

Twenty attorneys general, including Hector Balderas in New Mexico, are challenging Trump administration rule changes they say will reduce access to family planning services.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday that the president is playing politics with patients by changing rules that would shift federal family planning funds toward organizations that stress abstinence.

The AGs filed a brief supporting lawsuits filed in Washington two weeks ago by Planned Parenthood groups in Wisconsin, Ohio and Utah, and the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association.

The lawsuits target proposed rule changes for about $260 million in family planning funds.

The supporting brief was also signed by prosecutors in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Judge Rules To Keep Parents Jailed In Trafficking CaseAssociated Press

A New Mexico judge has ruled that the parents of a 7-year-old girl who authorities say was abused and sexually exploited must remain jailed as they await trial in the case.

The girl's father is charged with human trafficking, promoting prostitution and other counts, while the mother was taken into custody on charges of child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The ruling Tuesday came after attorneys gave closing arguments in a detention hearing for the couple that unfolded like a mini-trial over several days.  Multiple witnesses gave testimony, including law enforcement and a teacher, who spoke emotionally about reporting her concerns about the girl to authorities.

The couple's attorneys questioned the reliability of the state's evidence.

Immigration And Border Security Dominate Candidate ForumAssociated Press

Federal immigration policy and concerns about preserving New Mexico's Native American and centuries-old Hispanic cultures were at the forefront of a congressional candidate forum Tuesday, as six Democrats compete for an open Albuquerque-based seat in primary elections.

The evening forum at the University of New Mexico was specifically geared toward Latino and other minority communities. Idalia Lechuga-Tena, a former state lawmaker who emigrated from Mexico as a child, led the nearly two-hour discussion.

Seven candidates from three political parties participated. Only Pat Davis, an Albuquerque city council member, did not attend.

Questions touched on concerns about access to health care in communities of color and proposals on reforming the wage gap between men and women, and whites and minorities.

A separate candidate forum that focuses exclusively on immigration issues is scheduled for Wednesday. Sponsors include The New Mexico Dream Team that advocates for families that include people living in the country without legal permission.