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Welfare States

Biden Administration to Overhaul Welfare Following ProPublica Reporting

The Administration for Children and Families has quietly proposed closing loopholes in the nation's cash assistance program for the poor that a 2021 ProPublica investigation found states had exploited for years.

Reporting From the Southwest

ProPublica’s seven-person reporting unit based in Phoenix covers the Southwest, including Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah. Many of these states are among the fastest-growing in the country, and the region is experiencing rapid changes to the climate, economy, demographics and other trends that will shape the nation’s future.

The Future of the Colorado River Hinges on One Young Negotiator

J.B. Hamby, California’s representative in talks about sharing water from the Colorado River, holds the keys to a quarter of the river’s flow — and its future.

The Historic Claims That Put a Few California Farming Families First in Line for Colorado River Water

Twenty families in the Imperial Valley received a whopping 386.5 billion gallons of the river’s water last year — more than three Western states. Century-old water rights guarantee that supply.

The 20 Farming Families Who Use More Water From the Colorado River Than Some Western States

Tens of millions of people — and millions of acres of farmland — rely on the Colorado River’s water. But as its supply shrinks, these farmers get more water from the river than entire states.

Southwest News Staff

Southwest Editor
Michael Squires
Anjeanette Damon, Eli Hager, Mary Hudetz, Mark Olalde and Nicole Santa Cruz
Abrams Reporting Fellow
Hannah Dreyfus
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Local Reporting Network Partners

ProPublica is supporting local and regional newsrooms as they work on important investigative projects affecting their communities. Some of our past and present partners in the region:

Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona
Arizona Republic
Phoenix, Arizona
New Mexico In Depth
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Searchlight New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Santa Fe New Mexican
Sante Fe, New Mexico
Rocky Mountain PBS
Denver, Colorado

A Former Police Chief Fought to Rebuild After a New Mexico Fire. He Died Before He Could Go Home.

The man and his wife urgently needed payouts from the federal government, which set the fire that burned down their house.

Utah Therapist Arrested for Allegedly Sexually Abusing Patients During Sessions

Scott Owen, who was considered an expert in helping struggling gay Latter-day Saint men, is accused of assaulting his patients.

Here’s What Can Happen When Kids Age Out of Foster Care

Two teens aged out of New Mexico’s child welfare system last year. This photo essay shows how different their lives have become.

Ella confió en su primer ginecobstetra porque hablaba español. Ahora es una de las 94 mujeres que lo demandan por agresión sexual.

La Corte Suprema del estado de Utah escuchará esta semana los argumentos del caso, que determinarán si lo que 94 mujeres dicen haber experimentado fue agresión sexual o negligencia médica.

She Trusted Her First OB-GYN Because He Spoke Spanish. Now She’s 1 of 94 Women Suing Him for Sexual Assault.

The Utah Supreme Court this week is hearing arguments in the case, which will determine if what 94 women say they experienced was sexual assault or medical malpractice.

Western States Opposed Tribes’ Access to the Colorado River 70 Years Ago. History Is Repeating Itself.

Records unearthed by a University of Virginia professor shed new light on states’ vocal opposition in the 1950s to tribes claiming their share of the river.

When Foster Parents Don’t Want to Give Back the Baby

In many states, adoption lawyers are pushing a new legal strategy that forces biological parents to compete for custody of their children.

These Men Say Their Utah Therapist Touched Them Inappropriately During Sessions Paid for by the LDS Church

A spokesperson for the church said it does not vet the therapists its bishops recommend and pay for, saying “it is up to church members” to “make their own decisions.”

Life in Limbo: Victims of New Mexico’s Biggest Wildfire Wait for Checks From the Federal Government to Rebuild

Congress set aside $4 billion to compensate victims after the U.S. Forest Service accidentally set the largest wildfire in state history. The vast majority of victims haven’t been paid, and many can’t rebuild until they are.

Concerned About Your OB-GYN Visit? A Guide to What Should Happen — and What Shouldn’t.

As we’ve reported on sexual misconduct by OB-GYNs, many women told us they didn’t know what was normal. With the help of providers, patients and experts, we created this guide.

New Mexico AG to Investigate Gallup-McKinley School District for Harsh Discipline of Native American Students

Gallup-McKinley County Schools enrolls a quarter of New Mexico’s Native students but was responsible for at least three-quarters of Native expulsions over four years.

They Were Promised Help With Mortgage Payments. Then They Got a Foreclosure Notice.

Homeowners enrolled in Nevada’s mortgage assistance program have received foreclosure notices when the money fails to make its way from the federal government to the loan providers on time.

Both Parents Agree: The Child Is Being Harmed. Which One Will the Court Believe?

A child said he was being sexually and physically abused by his father. The father alleged the mother was brainwashing the child against him. One reporter dug into years of case files to understand how courts decided to interpret the facts.

A Utah Therapist Built a Reputation for Helping Gay Latter-day Saints. These Men Say He Sexually Abused Them.

Several patients complained to the church or the state licensing board about inappropriate touching during therapy sessions. It was years before the therapist gave up his license.

How One Woman Narrowly Avoided a Bad Deal With a “We Buy Ugly Houses” Franchise

Royanne McNair believed she had canceled her contract with a “We Buy Ugly Houses” franchise, so she pursued another offer on her house — this one for $100,000 more. Then an anonymous envelope froze the deal.

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    How a Big Pharma Company Stalled a Potentially Lifesaving Vaccine in Pursuit of Bigger Profits

    A vaccine against tuberculosis has never been closer to reality. But its development slowed after its corporate owner focused on more profitable vaccines.

    How Columbia Ignored Women, Undermined Prosecutors and Protected a Predator For More Than 20 Years

    For decades, patients warned Columbia about the behavior of obstetrician Robert Hadden. One even called 911 and had him arrested. Columbia let him keep working.

    Post-Roe America

    Idaho Banned Abortion. Then It Turned Down Supports for Pregnancies and Births.

    Since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the state’s GOP-led Legislature has disbanded a maternal mortality committee, failed to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage and turned down federal grants for child care.


    Louisiana Supreme Court Ruling Overturns Reform Law Intended to Fix “Three-Strikes” Sentences

    The ruling was a victory for state attorney general, Jeff Landry, but defense attorneys say it could also help their clients’ requests for reduced sentences.

    Local Reporting Network

    With Every Breath

    Philips Kept Complaints About Dangerous Breathing Machines Secret While Company Profits Soared

    Tainted CPAP machines and ventilators went to children, the elderly and at least 700,000 veterans despite internal warnings. Company insiders said the devices posed an “unacceptable” risk.