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IMMIGRATION-WAITING IN MEXICO

Illegal crossings plunge as US extends policy across border

YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — Illegal border crossings have plummeted after the Trump administration made more asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court. The drop has been most striking on Arizona's western border, a pancake-flat desert. Border arrests there fell 94% from May to October. A Border Patrol official says traffic plunged after asylum-seekers learned they couldn't stay in the U.S. while their cases wound through court. More than 55,000 asylum-seekers were returned to Mexico to wait for hearings through November, 10 months after the policy was introduced in San Diego.

ARIZONA HEMP-HIGH THC

Tests find some early Arizona hemp crops have too much THC

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s budding hemp-growing industry is suffering growing pains as levels of THC that are too high force some farmers to destroy crops instead of harvesting them. Results of state Department of Agriculture testing have about 41% of the Arizona hemp plants failing due to too high a level of THC, the compound that gives marijuana its high. The Arizona Republic reports that growers in other states around the country have had issues managing the THC content of hemp plants, with crops in Hawaii and Nebraska also testing too high, but not as much as in Arizona's early months. Arizona in 2019 began issuing hemp-growing licenses to farmers under a law enacted in 2018, and harvesting started in late 2019.

NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY-SHOOTING

Man in jail to await sentencing in Arizona campus shooting

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A former Northern Arizona University student is in jail awaiting his upcoming sentencing in a 2015 shooting in which another student was killed and three others wounded. Charges against Steven Jones originally included first-degree murder but he ended up pleading guilty Jan. 9 to manslaughter in 20-year-old Colin Brough's death and to three counts of aggravated assault. A sheriff's official said Jones reported to the Coconino County jail Friday night. The 23-year-old Jones' sentencing hearing is scheduled Feb. 11 but Superior Court Judge Dan Slayton gave him a week before ordering him to report to jail after he pleaded guilty.

WILD HORSES KILLED

Forest officials confirm additional deaths of wild horses

HEBER-OVERGAARD, Ariz. (AP) — U.S. Forest Service officials confirm that seven more wild horses have been found dead in eastern Arizona after eight others were found earlier this month and said at least some were shot. A statement issued Friday by Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests officials says “several horses died due to bullet wounds" but that other carcasses were too badly decomposed to determine the cause of death. An Apache-Sitgreaves spokesman did not immediately respond Saturday to a query from The Associated Press. The statement said the 15 horse deaths occurred in a ranger district headquartered in Heber-Overgaard, a rural community 109 miles northeast of Phoenix.

POLICE BORDER GRANT-WITHDRAWAL

Tucson police withdraws from federal border-security grant

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Police officers in Arizona have announced the Tucson Police Department is withdrawing from the Operation Stonegarden border security grant program after claims the program does not align with their mission. The Arizona Daily Star reported Friday that the state Department of Homeland Security was notified in a December email that Tucson police will no longer participate in the program, effective Jan. 30. Officials say the decision comes days before Pima County is scheduled Tuesday to discuss whether to also cease acceptance of the federal funding. Some officials say not accepting the grant could hinder public safety in the region.

PUBLIC SAFETY-DEATH BENEFITS

Arizona lawmaker wants fallen officers' families to get $1M

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona lawmaker wants the state's voters to approve a measure that would ensure the families of police, firefighters and other public safety officers get at least $1 million if their loved one dies on the job. Sen. David Livingston said his intent is to add state money to any other work-related death benefits the families receive to reach the $1 million threshold. Besides state and local law enforcement officers, sworn employees of public fire agencies and state and private corrections officers, U.S. Border Patrol agents who live in the state and Arizona National Guard members also will be covered.

ARIZONA BUDGET

Poorest, best schools a focus in proposed Arizona budget

PHOENIX (AP) — Gov. Doug Ducey proposed a $12.3 billion spending plan Friday that would send more money to Arizona's best-performing and poorest schools while boosting the budget for repairing schools and building new ones. Ducey's budget would raise state spending by about 6% over the budget enacted last year, an increase of $727 million. The governor pegged Arizona's budget surplus at $965 million, which he proposes spending on a variety of things including education, raises for some state employees such as prison guards, and a tax cut for retired veterans.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL BURIED

Unidentified girl buried in Arizona following 3-year inquiry

KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) — The body of a teenager discovered near an Arizona highway has been buried without the discovery of her identity despite an extensive investigation. The Kingman Daily Miner reported the girl was laid to rest Thursday. Hikers found the girl's body near Highway 93 north of Dolan Springs in September 2016. The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and Mohave County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted the investigation to identify the girl, whose cause of death was not determined. Sutton Memorial Funeral Home donated the casket and Mountain View Cemetery in Kingman plans to provide a headstone.