Last week, a number of Democratic Congressional members toured a Border Patrol facility in Alamogordo following two deaths of a migrant children in US custody.
According to KOAT, 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo died at the facility in 2019—about six days after being apprehended at the border by US Customs and Border Patrol. The child was reportedly traveling from Guatemala to the US with his father. Alonzo's death came only weeks after the death of another migrant Guatemalan child, Jakelin Caal Maquin, while she was in CBP custody in Texas.
The agency announced it would change its policies for handling migrant children following Alonzo's death, but Democratic leaders say it wasn't enough. They are asking for better medical equipment, more personnel and an improved processing systems at all US Border Patrol facilities. They also say the CBP has yet to release specifics on how Alonzo died.
“We've seen some improvement, but it took the death of two children,” said New Mexico Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. “It provides some optimism for future progress, but is nowhere near where it needs to be.”
UNMH Asking for Scholarship Funds
UNM Hospital officials are asking lawmakers to provide funding for medical school scholarships and outpatient programs.
According to KOB, hospital officials have proposed a $6 million New Mexico Health Equity Scholarship that would offer to pay students' tuition fees at the UNM School of Medicine if approved. The cost to the school is about $16,000 a year. The students' would then be required to stay in New Mexico for four years after graduating.
Hospital leaders say the proposed scholarship will help counter the physician shortage currently affecting New Mexico. UNM Health Sciences Center told reporters last year that the state is suffering from a shortage of primary care providers and a severe shortage of nurses. Staff say a lack of incentives drives health care professionals to leave the state after they've received their training. New Mexico reportedly has the highest percentage of physicians over the age of 60.
Hospital officials also asked lawmakers for another $1.75 million to fund outpatient programs.
NMSU Stops Student Trips to China
New Mexico State University announced it will not be sending students to China due to concerns over the coronavirus.
The Associated Press reports that university spokesperson Minerva Baumann said that the school will follow the US State Department’s travel warning and its study abroad office will be halting trips to China until further notice. Baumann said the temporary policy hasn't interrupted anyone's education, as there weren't any outbound students registered to study abroad in China this semester.
The University of New Mexico told reporters that it is monitoring the situation in China but has not made any travel restrictions.
The coronavirus has killed more than at least 490 people in China. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath or pneumonia. In the US, there have been 11 reported cases of the disease but no deaths.