Proposed Public Charge rule would increase hunger and poverty in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE—New Mexico organizations are fighting the Trump administration’s reckless new attack on our families: a greatly expanded “Public Charge” rule that essentially turns the U.S. immigration system into a pay-to-play game that unfairly favors the wealthy. If the proposed rule were to go into effect, it would allow the government to deny green cards and visa renewals to lawfully present immigrants who participate in programs that help with basic needs like medical care, food, and housing.

In New Mexico, immigrants make up a large part of our communities. Nearly one in 10 New Mexicans is an immigrant, and one in nine have immigrant parents. New Mexico stands to lose as many as 2,700 jobs and nearly $400 million in economic activity because eligible New Mexicans will forego federal benefits that flow directly into our local economy.

“Trump Charge is yet one more example of this administration’s agenda to target and persecute our communities,” said Fabiola Bawden, community organizer from El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos. “We are proud of the economic, cultural, and social contributions that immigrant communities make in New Mexico and across the nation. We are ONE New Mexico and must continue to resist Trump’s attempts to push our families into further poverty, strip away legal protections that keep our families together, and rob us of the opportunity to fully integrate into the civic and economic life of the state and country we call home.”

Trump’s new rule dramatically expands the list of programs that jeopardize immigration status to include nearly all available basic need programs like Medicaid, housing assistance, and SNAP food assistance. Currently, the Public Charge rule only considers receipt of cash benefits and institutional care as a reason to deny lawfully present immigrants visa renewals or to deny their application for legal residency.

“No one should ever have to choose between putting food on the table and keeping their family together,” said Sovereign Hager, legal director of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “At least 77,000 U.S. children in New Mexico live with at least one immigrant parent and are in a family that receives basic assistance. Kids who get assistance with basic needs are healthier, do better in school, and earn more in the future. If this rule goes into effect, we will all face the consequences for generations to come.”

The rule is in a public comment period until December 10, 2018. The Department of Homeland Security must consider all comments before it publishes a final rule in order for there to be a change to immigration law or policy.

“The Trump administration continues to target immigrant communities,” said Eduardo García of the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center. “This is an effort to create confusion and fear among immigrants and discourage immigration and the use of benefits for immigrant families who qualify. We encourage all New Mexicans to submit comments against the proposed rule and stand up against this drastic change in policy.”

The new rule will not be retroactive, so the current use of food and medical benefits do not fall under the proposed rule. The groups recommend that people concerned about their immigration status continue participating in benefits programs and speak to an immigration attorney. If the rule is approved, it will not go into effect immediately after it is published. Families will have time to make decisions about benefits then.

“Through our daily work, we witness the devastating impact that poverty and the associated toxic stress have on individuals’ and families’ psychological and emotional well-being. The Trump administration is attacking a significant portion of the hardworking families in our communities,” said William Wagner, PhD, LCSW, Director of Centro Savila. “We cannot sit by while the Trump administration increases hunger, poverty, and sickness in our nation while handing out deep tax cuts to the rich. This endangers our families, communities, our state, and our country.”

“Thousands of New Mexico children – most of whom are U.S. citizens – will likely lose access to services because their parents will terminate their health insurance, food assistance, and more as a result of these proposed changes to the public charge definition,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a child advocacy organization. “It’s unconscionable that the Trump administration would take actions that will harm children across the nation.”

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Centro Savila improves the mental health of our community by ensuring access to linguistically and culturally relevant, quality mental health and prevention services, education and healthcare professional development.

EL CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos is a grassroots, immigrants’ rights and workers’ justice organization based in Central New Mexico that works with Latino immigrant communities and allies to defend, strengthen, and advance the rights of Albuquerque’s communities.

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty is dedicated to advancing economic and social justice through education, advocacy, and litigation. We work with low-income New Mexicans to improve living conditions, increase opportunities, and protect the rights of people living in poverty.

New Mexico Immigration Law Center advances justice and equity by empowering low-income immigrant communities through collaborative legal services, advocacy, and education.

New Mexico Voices for Children champions  public policies that improve the well-being of New Mexico’s children, families, and communities in the areas of health, education, and economics through credible research and effective advocacy.

HSD to Hold Hearing on Medicaid Cuts Wednesday

SANTA FE—New Mexico’s Human Services Department will hold a hearing on the serious cuts the Medicaid program faces in the Centennial Care 2.0 waiver proposal on Wednesday, October 24 in Santa Fe.

The waiver proposal imposes new excessive patient premiums on low-income adults living just above the poverty line. These fees will cause thousands of New Mexicans to lose healthcare coverage. The proposal would also phase out retroactive coverage, which is a protection that pays for a Medicaid eligible person’s hospital and medical bills incurred up to three months before signing up for Medicaid. Phasing out retroactive coverage would put New Mexico’s families in jeopardy of severe medical debt and leave healthcare providers with additional uncompensated care costs.

WHAT:
HSD Hearing on the Centennial Care 2.0 Waiver Proposal

WHEN:
9:00 a.m -12:00 p.m., October 24, 2018

WHERE:     
Rio Grande Conference Room, Toney Anaya Building, 2550 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87505

WHO:
William Townley, attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and other groups against the waiver
HSD staff
Public Comment

Groups to hold press conference on Trump’s proposal to penalize immigrants who access basic assistance

Proposed “Public Charge” rule will increase hunger and poverty in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE—Economic justice and immigrant rights organizations will hold a press conference Wednesday at 11 a.m. to discuss how the Trump administration’s reckless new attack on immigrant families—a greatly expanded “Public Charge” rule—will impact New Mexico and how people can oppose it. If the proposed rule were to go into effect, it would allow the government to deny green cards and visa renewals to lawfully present immigrants who participate in programs that help with basic needs like medical care, food, and housing.

Trump’s new rule dramatically expands the list of programs that jeopardize immigration status to include nearly all available basic need programs like Medicaid, housing assistance, and SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. The Public Charge rule currently only considers receipt of cash benefits and institutional care as a reason to deny lawfully-present immigrants visa renewals or to deny their applications for legal residency.

WHAT:
Press conference on proposed Public Charge rule that would allow the government to deny green cards and visa renewals to lawfully-present immigrants who participate in programs that help with basic needs like medical care, food, and housing.

WHEN:
11 a.m., Wednesday, October 24, 2018

WHERE:
EL CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos, 714 4th St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

WHO:
Centro Savila
EL CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos
New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty
New Mexico Immigration Law Center

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Centro Savila improves the mental health of our community by ensuring access to linguistically and culturally relevant, quality mental health and prevention services, education and healthcare professional development.

EL CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos is a grassroots, immigrants’ rights and workers’ justice organization based in Central New Mexico that works with Latino immigrant communities and allies to defend, strengthen, and advance the rights of our community.

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty is dedicated to advancing economic and social justice through education, advocacy, and litigation. We work with low-income New Mexicans to improve living conditions, increase opportunities, and protect the rights of people living in poverty.

New Mexico Immigration Law Center advances justice and equity by empowering low-income immigrant communities through collaborative legal services, advocacy, and education.

City of Albuquerque supports ‘Medicaid Buy-in’  

City Council moved by local and statewide support for innovative solution 

ALBUQUERQUE—The Albuquerque City Council, after hearing from NM Together for Healthcare leaders from Albuquerque, passed a resolution today that supports the state’s commitment to exploring a proposal that would allow anyone to buy into a low-cost healthcare plan through Medicaid—including the uninsured who don’t qualify for Medicaid now.

“I support the Medicaid Buy-in because we all have the right to good health, and access to low-cost options will help many people,” said Evelyn Ramos, a Partnership for Community Action healthcare advocate and Albuquerque resident. “Since I am uninsured, I know how difficult it is to find healthcare coverage. When I do find services, I am given appointments months away.
I have daughters who get sick often, so it has helped my family to have them covered by Medicaid. But not everyone is eligible for Medicaid. We should open it up for everyone to access good healthcare.”

The Medicaid Buy-in plan has been gaining support around the state with
the unanimous passage of similar resolutions by the All Pueblo Council of Governors and local governments, including the city of Sunland Park, the city of Anthony, Bernalillo County, and McKinley County. Medicaid Buy-in memorials passed with bipartisan support in the New Mexico House and Senate during the 2018 legislative session.

Medicaid is already a trusted, popular model that covers over 830,000
New Mexicans, including over 225,000 Bernalillo County residents. The plan would open up Medicaid for all New Mexican’s to buy into, providing low-cost coverage for the over 48,000 uninsured Bernalillo county residents. It would also provide affordable health insurance to individuals who are not eligible for Medicaid due to income or immigration status.

The plan could also help the economy by ensuring families have coverage to receive needed medical care before health conditions worsen, resulting in medical debt for families and uncompensated care costs for hospitals and providers.

“Without Medicaid, it would be extremely difficult for us to afford medical services for my daughters. We would probably go to the doctor in an emergency or when an illness has worsened,” said Ramos. “But undocumented people do not have access to Medicaid. It is important for us to find what we have in common—we all need good health.”

The Albuquerque City Council will share the resolution with state legislators and include this resolution in their legislative requests for the upcoming 2019 session.

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NM Together for Healthcare is a statewide, multiracial campaign of families and community organizations working together to strengthen healthcare access in New Mexico supported by Strong Families New MexicoPartnership for Community ActionNew Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, and Health Action New Mexico. For information, visit http://nmtogether4health.org/ or email: nmtogether4healthcare@gmail.com.

City of Albuquerque to consider supporting innovative ‘Medicaid buy-in’ option today

ALBUQUERQUE—Albuquerque healthcare leaders in the New Mexico Together for Healthcare campaign will present a resolution to the Albuquerque City Council today that supports the state’s exploration of an innovative plan that would allow New Mexicans to buy-in to the proven, trusted Medicaid healthcare system. The city council is expected to pass the resolution at its 5 p.m. meeting this evening.

The buy-in plan would allow New Mexicans to buy into the Medicaid program for healthcare coverage—even if they are not currently eligible for Medicaid— providing a more affordable, high-quality healthcare coverage option.

With more than 48,000 people in Bernalillo County currently without health insurance, a Medicaid buy-in plan would make quality healthcare coverage more accessible for many local residents. Albuquerqueans have reached out to the city councilors and urged them to support the resolution.

WHAT:  
The Albuquerque City Council will vote on an important resolution supporting the state’s work to explore a Medicaid Buy-in plan.

WHEN:   
5 p.m., Monday, October 1, 2018

WHERE:     
Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Center, One Civic Plaza, Albuquerque, NM 87102

WHO: 
Albuquerque City Council
New Mexico Together for Healthcare leaders

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NM Together for Healthcare is a statewide, multiracial campaign of families and community organizations working together to strengthen healthcare access in New Mexico, supported by Strong Families New Mexico, Partnership for Community Action, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and Health Action New Mexico. For information, visit http://nmtogether4health.org/ or email: nmtogether4healthcare@gmail.com.

Legislative Health and Human Services Committee to hear about ‘Medicaid Buy-in’ study

LAS CRUCES—On Friday, September 28, New Mexico’s Legislative Health and Human Services Committee will hear updates from the research group Manatt on the study exploring a Medicaid buy-in plan for New Mexico. During the 2018 Legislative Session, Medicaid Buy-in memorials (House Memorial 9 and Senate Memorial 3) passed with bipartisan support in favor of studying the fiscal considerations and design of such a plan for New Mexico.

Resolutions supporting the study of a Medicaid buy-in plan have passed with unanimous support in cities and counties across the state.

A Medicaid buy-in plan would allow New Mexicans who are not otherwise eligible for the program to use their own dollars to buy into a quality, affordable coverage option built out of the trusted, popular model of Medicaid. Manatt will be presenting preliminary design options for the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee to consider as the study progresses.

WHAT:     
Legislative Health and Human Services Committee to hear updates on Medicaid Buy-in study from Manatt Health

WHEN:     
Friday, September 28, 2018, 9:00-11:00 a.m.
Public comment to follow

WHERE:   
NM State University’s Fulton Athletic Center, 1815 Wells Street, Las Cruces, NM 88003

WHO:  
Legislative Health and Human Services Committee
NM Together for Healthcare leaders
Manatt Health

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NM Together for Healthcare is a statewide, multiracial campaign of families and community organizations working together to strengthen healthcare access in New Mexico supported by Strong Families New MexicoPartnership for Community ActionNew Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and Health Action New Mexico. For information, visit http://nmtogether4health.org/ or email: nmtogether4healthcare@gmail.com.

Legislative Committee to hear proposed education remedies on Friday  

Reforms would assure compliance with Yazzie/Martinez court ruling

ALBUQUERQUE — On Friday, New Mexico’s Legislative Education Study Committee will hear a platform of proposed remedies that would satisfy the recent state court ruling requirements on the consolidated lawsuit Yazzie v. State of New Mexico and Martinez v. State of New Mexico, which found that the state was not providing New Mexico students with a sufficient education as required by the state constitution.

The lawsuit was brought by families and school districts represented by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and families represented by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund).

Over a hundred people from across the state, including educators, advocates, tribal leaders, and families, agreed upon a platform that greatly expands access to culturally and linguistically relevant curricula, enhances teacher supports, and promotes proven, research-based programs such as universal pre-K and K-5 Plus, extends the school year, lowers class size, and increases funding for the At-Risk Index.

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and MALDEF will present to the LESC.

WHAT:    
Legislative Education Study Committee hearing on proposed remedies adhering to the recent state court ruling requirements on the consolidated lawsuit Yazzie v. State of New Mexico and Martinez v. State of New Mexico.

WHEN:
Friday, September 28 at 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

WHERE:   
Hawthorne Elementary School, 420 General Somervell St. NE, Albuquerque, NM

WHO:
LESC
Attorneys from New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty
Attorneys from MALDEF

Families sue CYFD over illegal denial of child care assistance

SANTA FE—Access to quality and affordable child care is critical for working families and parents who are in school. Unfortunately, the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department has been illegally and arbitrarily denying eligible families much needed child care assistance. Several parents and OLÉ, represented by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, sued the agency late yesterday in First Judicial District Court for violating New Mexico’s state laws and constitution.

“We should all be able to go to work knowing we’re leaving our children in good hands,” said Annette Torres, one of the plaintiffs in the Torres v Jacobson lawsuit. “I really cannot tell you how devastated I was when CYFD denied me child care assistance. It’s just been a tremendous struggle to make ends meet. Without child care, I wouldn’t be able to work.”

Families represented in the lawsuit include a parent who will not be able to return to her managerial job because she cannot afford full time child care. Instead, she will take another job with a different employer for less hours and lower wages. Other parents in the lawsuit are preschool teachers and a medical assistant who cannot afford the ever changing and unpredictable co-pays, some as high as $400 a month, that CYFD assigns to them.

The Torres v Jacobson lawsuit claims that CYFD illegally established a policy of denying child care assistance to families with incomes over 150 percent of the federal poverty levela yearly income of $31,170 for a family of threewithout publishing a regulation or going through the required public comment and hearing process. CYFD’s own regulations state that the eligibility for child care assistance is considerably higher, set at 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Families still experience financial hardship even with incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

CYFD also illegally turns away families looking for child care assistance without informing them of their right to challenge a denial of benefits.

“We know that the earliest years in children’s lives are the most important in their development and lay the foundation for all that is to come,” said Monica Ault, attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “All working families need access to affordable childcare and preschool that they can trust. Families denied child care assistance have had to turn down work opportunities, drop out of school, or are forced to seek alternative care that is often low-quality and not developmentally appropriate for their children.”  

When CYFD does provide child care assistance, it illegally forces families to shell out unaffordable co-pays without explanation of how it determined the amounts. CYFD’s methods for calculating copayment amounts are arbitrary and have not been established through a public and transparent rulemaking process as required by law. The agency will not explain how it determines copayments beyond saying that the computer system does it.

The federal government has established seven percent of income as a benchmark of affordability for child care assistance. However, CYFD sets co-payments considerably higher for a large share of families. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit shoulder child care costs of over 10 percent of family income.

“Our family has had to make many sacrifices so that my wife and I can go to work knowing that our children are getting safe, quality care,” said John Cambra whose wife is a plaintiff. “It’s been incredibly difficult to make things work. Our co-pays were so high that we’ve had to go without transportation and ask our families to help us with things like diapers and wipes for our children.”

“One often insurmountable barrier to financial security for many families is the high cost of child care, and this is especially true for low-wage workers,” added Traeshaun Buffin a community organizer at OLÉ. “The astronomical costs prevent tens of thousands of New Mexican families with children from accessing meaningful work and educational opportunities. CYFD should stop denying eligible families the child care assistance they need. CYFD needs to adopt standards with public input to make the program affordable and predictable.”

The complaint can be found here: http://nmpovertylaw.org/torres-v-jacobson-first-amended-complaint-with-exhibits/

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The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty is dedicated to advancing economic and social justice through education, advocacy, and litigation. We work with low-income New Mexicans to improve living conditions, increase opportunities, and protect the rights of people living in poverty.

OLÉ is a non-profit, who uses grassroots organizing within the local community of working families in New Mexico. Our members and staff work together to strengthen our communities through social advocacy and economic reform, using issue-based campaigns and electoral engagement to ensure that working families are playing a critical role in shaping New Mexico’s future with a united voice.

Press conference tomorrow on lawsuit challenging CYFD’s illegal denials of child care assistance

ALBUQUERQUE—Access to quality and affordable child care is critical for working families and parents who are in school. Unfortunately, the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department has illegally denied much needed child care assistance to eligible families. Working parents and OLÉ, represented by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, will hold a press conference this Wednesday announcing a lawsuit against CYFD for violating New Mexico’s statutory and constitutional law.

CYFD illegally denies child care assistance to families with incomes over 150 percent of the federal poverty level—a yearly income of $31,170 for a family of three. CYFD’s own regulations state that the cut off for child care assistance eligibility is over 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

CYFD also fails to inform families of their right to challenge denials. When CYFD does provide child care assistance, it illegally forces families to shell out unaffordable co-pays without explanation of how it determined the arbitrary amounts.

The lawsuit will be filed Tuesday evening.

WHAT:
Press conference announcing a lawsuit against CYFD for illegally denying eligible families child care assistance.

WHO:   

  • Working parents and their families illegally denied child care assistance who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit
  • Representatives from OLÉ
  • Attorneys from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty

WHEN: 
Wednesday, September 26 at 9:00 a.m.

WHERE:
Children Youth & Families Department, 3401 Pan American Fwy NE, Albuquerque, NM 87107

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The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty is dedicated to advancing economic and social justice through education, advocacy, and litigation. We work with low-income New Mexicans to improve living conditions, increase opportunities, and protect the rights of people living in poverty.

OLÉ is a non-profit, who uses grassroots organizing within the local community of working families in New Mexico. Our members and staff work together to strengthen our communities through social advocacy and economic reform, using issue-based campaigns and electoral engagement to ensure that working families are playing a critical role in shaping New Mexico’s future with a united voice.

The Trump administration’s “public charge” rule will increase hunger and poverty in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE—In a reckless new attack on immigrant families, the Trump administration has proposed a federal rule that would allow the government to deny green cards and visa renewals to immigrants who have participated in programs that help with basic needs like medical care, food, and housing.

The rule change primarily impacts lawfully present immigrants applying for green cards and immigrants seeking entry to the U.S. through family-based petitions. It will significantly disrupt access to food, healthcare, and shelter for millions of immigrant families nationwide and hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans.

“No family should have to choose between meeting basic needs and being with their loved ones,” said Sovereign Hager, legal director at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.

Trump’s new rule drastically expands the list of programs that jeopardize immigration status to include nearly all available basic need programs like Medicaid and SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. The “public charge” rule currently only considers receipt of cash benefits and institutional care as a public charge reason to deny immigrants admission to U.S. or to deny their application for legal residency. The new rule will not be retroactive, so the current use of food and medical benefits do not fall under the proposed rule.

19.8 million children in the U.S. live with at least one immigrant parent. When eligible family members cannot access food assistance because they fear immigration consequences, the entire family has reduced access to food. Nearly five million citizen children and at least 30,000 U.S. citizen children in New Mexico may face a reduction in food benefits.

“The latest scheme unfairly changes the rules for families who’ve waited for years to be reunited,” said Sireesha Manne, executive director at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “It creates a pay-to-play immigration system where green cards go to the highest bidders in wealthier households.”

The Trump administration’s policy agenda is already causing immigrants to forgo crucial assistance for themselves and their citizen children for fear of being targeted for deportation. By penalizing families for accepting help with food and medical care for which they are eligible, the policy will increase inequality and make us a sicker, hungrier, poorer nation.

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty denounces this cruel and reckless public charge proposal. In the weeks and months to come, the organization will work tirelessly to mobilize with state and national partners to oppose the proposed rule.

“The best way to strengthen our country is to ensure that all families who live in it can meet their basic needs. All families have a human right to food, medical care, and shelter to thrive and contribute to their communities and our country,” said Hager. “These cruel attacks on immigrant families must stop for our nation to end inequality and increase opportunity.”

Find out more about the public charge rule here: http://nmpovertylaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Factsheet-Know-the-facts-about-public-charge-2018-09-23.pdf

A copy of the proposed new rule can be found here: https://www.dhs.gov/publication/proposed-rule-inadmissibility-public-charge-grounds#