Kirtland Air Force Base could lose funding to recruit Latino employees.

That's what officials at Kirtland, long criticized over its percentage of Latino civilian workers, said could happen if Congress decides to cut defense spending.

Tom Berardinelli, director of staff of the 377th Air Base Wing, say the Albuquerque base spends around $3 million to $5 million annually on programs meant to train and recruit diverse applicants for high-tech jobs. But Berardinelli said defense cuts mean programs like those getting area students interested in science could be on the chopping block.

Around 18 percent of the base's 2,000 employees are Latino. That's a drop from 1992 when about 34 percent of the base's 3,000 employees were Hispanic.

But Kirtland officials say many of its jobs today now require advance degrees, unlike 20 years ago.

The New Mexico base is home to the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, according to its web site.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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