Recipes

Green Chile stew – Feliz Baca

  • Meat of choice, I usually do chicken or pork 2lbs, cut up into cubes
  • 1 bag of roasted green chile, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic
  • half a chopped onion
  • 3-5 potatoes cubed
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can corn
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cover meat with water and cook meat with salt, pepper, onion and garlic to make soup base and broth. Once cooked add the cubed potatoes, stew tomatoes, and chopped green chile. Once cooked through, finish off with the corn, and eat with tortillas or a fried egg and cheddar cheese on top!


Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup – Laura Blum

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise 
  • 2 large tomatoes, quartered 
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges or 4 or 5 slices 
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick  wedges 
  • 6 garlic cloves 
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
  • 6 cups or more of vegetable broth 
  • 4 cups of finely chopped kale 
  • 3 large fresh thyme sprigs 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 15 oz can of Great Northern white beans, drained 
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Roast the carrots, tomatoes, onion, squash, garlic.  
  3. Rub rimmed baking sheet with a thin coat of olive oil. Place carrots, squash, tomatoes, onion, and garlic on the baking sheet and sprinkle with a little more olive oil and salt and pepper. Rub the oil over all of the vegetables so that they are well coated. 
  4. Roast vegetables about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until they are cooked through and nicely browned. 
  5. Further cut the squash and carrots 
  6. Remove the roasted squash and carrots from the pan to a cutting board. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside. 
  7. Purée the roasted garlic, tomatoes, onions 
  8. Remove the roasted garlic from their peelings and place in a food processor.  Add the roasted tomatoes and onions. Pulse in the processor until almost  smooth. 
  9. Deglaze the roasting pan
  10. Add a little water or broth to the baking sheet and scrape up any browned bits.
  11. Start soup with browned bits, broth, puréed vegetables 
  12. Add the browned bits, the broth, and the puréed vegetables to a large pot. Add  the chopped kale, thyme, and bay leaf to the pot. Heat on high to bring to a  boil, lower the heat to reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until the kale is  tender, about 30 minutes. 
  13. Add roasted carrots, squash, beans 
  14. Add the roasted carrots and squash to the soup. Add the drained white beans  to the soup. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes and add more broth or water to the  soup if it needs thinning. 
  15. Season with salt and pepper. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Casserole – Paloma Mexika

  • 2lbs chicken cooked and shredded
  • 2 cups of roasted green chile, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic
  • Broccoli crown, chopped
  • 2-3 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cans of cream based soup (cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, or cream of celery)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of chicken/vegetable broth
  • Onion, chopped
  • Jalapeño, chopped
  • Shredded cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook chicken with water or broth, salt, pepper, onion, garlic and jalapeño. Cook rice. Shred cooked chicken. Combine cream based soup, milk, broth, salt and pepper, and chopped green chile in mixing bowl. Chop broccoli. In a casserole dish, layer cooked rice, shredded chicken, and broccoli bits. Smother with creamy green chile mixture. Top with shredded cheese. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is slightly crisped.


Caldito – Maria Griego

  • 1 tbsp. canola or other cooking oil
  • 2 medium Yukon Gold or red potatoes sliced or diced into bite sized pieces (can be peeled or not). 
  • 1/2  white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1-2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 packet of au jus seasoning
  • 4-5 chopped green chiles (or one small container of Bueno or other frozen chile)
  • Water

1) Sautee potatoes and onions in a skillet with canola oil, then set aside in a bowl. 2) In the same pot the potatoes were cooked in, thoroughly cook the ground beef. 3) Once the beef is cooked, add in the flour, garlic powder and au jus packet mix.4) Add in the chopped chile. 5) Put the cooked potatoes back in the pot and add enough water to cover. 6) Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Best eaten with fresh tortillas!

New #AskALawyer video series

Introducing NMCLP’s new #AskALawyer video series! In these very short pieces, our attorneys will be answering questions the community may have about healthcare, workers’ rights, food security, housing, and other topics. Check out our first few episodes linked below and subscribe to our Youtube channel and follow our social media to see more in the coming weeks. Please share with your friends!

Minimum wage (English)

Minimum wage (Spanish)

Public benefits updates

State illegally denies families food and medical assistance because it fails to provide translation and interpretation

Thousands of New Mexicans who qualify for food and medical assistance are illegally denied or delayed access to benefits because the state does not provide translation and interpretation services, charges a motion filed today by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty on behalf of applicants for food and medical assistance in the lawsuit Deborah Hatten Gonzales v. David Scrase

The motion asks the US District Court of New Mexico to order the New Mexico’s Human Services Department to comply with federal and court ordered requirements to translate food and medical assistance applications, notices, and informational materials into languages prominently spoken in New Mexico’s communities. 

Many New Mexicans speak languages other than English in numbers that require translation of food and medical assistance applications and documents under federal laws, including Vietnamese, Chinese, Dari, Arabic, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, and Diné. However, the state only provides written documents in English and Spanish. 

Advocates and applicants in the lawsuit report experiencing long delays and barriers in accessing food and medical care, which was especially difficult during the pandemic. Some lost food assistance multiple times because the notice about renewing benefits is only in English. Others reported having to pay private interpreters, despite having no income and having to deal with unnecessary in person contact during the public health emergency.

An HSD office turned away Cuc T. Nguyen, a mother of a 13-year-old son, when she tried to apply for Medicaid because applications were in English only and the worker did not provide a Vietnamese interpreter. HSD staff illegally told her to come back with her own interpreter although by federal law HSD is required to provide applications in Vietnamese and access to an interpreter. 

Community-based organizations that work directly with New Mexicans that speak languages other than English or Spanish, like the New Mexico Asian Family Center and the Refugee Well-being Project, report having to divert limited resources to provide translation and interpretation services that are the state’s responsibility under federal law. 

To help families who could not apply for or renew benefits on their own due to language barriers, the New Mexico Asian Family Center has taken on additional clients and diverted resources meant to assist survivors of domestic violence during the pandemic. 

“Everyone who qualifies should be able to access state services regardless of the language they speak,” said AnhDao Bui of the New Mexico Asian Families Center. “Excluding some people because they don’t speak English exacerbates health and economic disparities. This kind of discrimination is not new. Lack of translation is part of a systemic problem that ignores the existence of Asians in New Mexico.” 

HSD’s continued discrimination violates families’ civil rights and illegally forces New Mexicans to go without food and medical care. The motion charges that despite repeated attempts since 2009 to bring these issues to the New Mexico Human Service Department’s attention, in April 2021, HSD refused again to take further action to comply. 

“It’s unacceptable that HSD continues to discriminate against people by failing to translate documents with full knowledge that families are being harmed as a consequence,” said Verenice Peregrino Pompa, attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “Now more than ever, HSD should be working with community members and plaintiffs in this case to resolve ongoing barriers to food and healthcare.” 

The long-running Hatten-Gonzales lawsuit was originally filed in 1989. In 2016, the court held former HSD Secretary Brent Earnest in contempt for failing to remove systemic barriers to assistance for eligible families applying for food and Medicaid assistance and appointed a Special Master to monitor and make recommendations to the department. While HSD has made some progress, the court recently ordered HSD to implement a corrective action plan. 

The motion can be found here: http://nmpovertylaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Doc.-1011_Motion-to-Enforce-Translation-and-Interpretation-2021-10-05.pdf

The exhibits can be found here: http://nmpovertylaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Doc.-1011_-Exhibits-to-Motion-to-Enforce-2021-10-05.pdf

The September 2021 order for HSD to implement a corrective action plan can be found here: http://nmpovertylaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Doc.-1009-Order-Re-Case-Review-CAP-2021-09-09.pdf

Rising with our communities, the next generation of lawyering

NMCLP welcomed four law students this summer – Cheyenne Trujillo, Christian White, Kelly Reeves, and Rebekah Peoble. Sharing a passion for justice and a strong commitment to our communities, they worked on key issues of education, workers’ rights, income security and housing protections. We extend our gratitude to them for joining us in movement with our communities. They inspired us with their work and advocacy!

Cheyenne Trujillo

Cheyenne Trujillo worked with our Public Benefits team this summer breaking down illegal barriers to basic necessities. She was excited to be able to put her commitment to dismantling systems of inequity into practice. Her work at NMCLP included drafting a civil rights lawsuit against the US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services for illegally denying a Violence Against Women Act self-petitioner’s food and healthcare benefits, and failing to provide Spanish-language interpretation. Cheyenne also tracked USDA denials of SNAP and Medicaid benefits for immigrants with humanitarian statuses such as asylum applicants and Special Immigrant Juveniles. 

Cheyenne looks forward to continuing to fight for social justice through public interest law. She is also interested in pursuing advocacy in government, environmental, and natural resource law. Before coming to NMCLP she worked for the New Mexico Land Grant Council. 

Cheyenne is currently part of the Arturo Jaramillo Program at the University of New Mexico School of Law which promotes opportunities for minorities in the legal profession and encourages their participation in bar programs and activities. She has a BA in criminology and political science, a minor in Chicana studies, and a MA in public administration from the University of New Mexico. She will be graduating from the UNM School of Law in 2023. 

Rebekah Peoble

Rebekah Peoble joined our Economic Equity team this summer working to keep as many New Mexicans as possible housed and combating harsh debt-related, court-imposed driver restrictions. Rebekah researched and drafted memos about anti-discrimination protections in state and local housing law and illegal fines charged by property managers in mobile home parks. She also worked on an extensive review and analysis of magistrate court cases in which judges suspended defendants’ drivers’ licenses as a counterproductive means of coercing debt payments for unpaid parking tickets and other court fines and fees.

Rebekah is the daughter of an immigrant mother. Her experiences and understanding of the disparities of race, class, language barriers, and socioeconomic factors motivated Rebekah to pursue a law degree to improve the lives of children and families by advocating for legal reforms that support New Mexico families and promote social justice.

Rebekah is a recipient of the Child and Family Justice Scholarship for dedicated students who are interested in transformative advocacy to pursue racial equity and well-being for children and families in New Mexico. Rebekah served on the executive board of the Student Bar Association. She has a BA in psychology and political science from New Mexico Highlands University. She will graduate from the UNM School of Law in 2023.

Christian White (Santo Domingo Pueblo and Navajo)

Christian White assisted the Education team in holding the state accountable to its legal obligation to overhaul New Mexico’s public education system so it supports the needs of all students. He worked on the Yazzie/Martinez case with a focus on Native American students and culturally relevant curriculum as well as the Tribal Remedy Framework—a comprehensive plan for meeting the educational needs of Native students created collectively by Tribal community members and Indigenous education experts. 

Christian’s interest in working with Native American communities began as a youth when he was learning about policy and his people’s history. He has worked in various capacities within Native education and organizing in his community.

Christian White received a B.A. in political science and Indigenous studies from Columbia University. He also has an M.A. in American Studies, with a focus on Critical Indigenous Studies from the University of New Mexico. He will graduate from the UNM School of Law in 2023.

Kelly Reeves

Kelly worked with the Workers’ Rights team on combating payroll fraud, challenging the exclusion of workers paid by the piece from the minimum wage, and supporting workers who experienced hardships with unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kelly began her career in social justice as a caseworker at a refugee resettlement agency in Indianapolis, Indiana. She worked with newly arrived families resettling in the state to ensure they had access to programs and resources upon arrival, and worked with the youth program to make Indianapolis more welcoming to newly arrived kids. She also served in the Peace Corps in Jamaica and Guyana where she taught literacy classes to grades three, four and eight, and supported the community’s goal of income generation through eco sport tourism. 

Kelly is a recipient of the Peggy Browning Fellowship for dedicated students who are interested in pursuing work in labor law and workers’ rights. She holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from DePaul University where she studied journalism. She has a Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in sustainable development and global practice from the University of Denver. She will graduate from the University of Colorado School of Law in 2022. 

Action Alert: Protect New Mexicans from medical debt!

In 2021, the New Mexico Legislature passed the Patients’ Debt Collection Protection Act. Rules are still needed to implement the law, but the proposed rules are currently missing key protections for patients. This is a critical moment for the public to weigh in.

The new law:

  • Prohibits medical providers and creditors from suing low-income patients or sending them to collections over medical debt.
  • Requires hospitals, urgent care centers, and other healthcare facilities to check if uninsured patients qualify for public programs like Medicaid and to help them enroll.
  • Requires the Office of Superintendent of Insurance (OSI) to issue rules explaining how patients show they qualify for the law’s protections.

Tell OSI that basic protections must be in the rules!

OSI’s proposed rules include several strong provisions. However, to ensure the law actually protects patients from debt, key revisions are needed. These include:

(1) Requiring medical providers and creditors to determine if a patient is low income before suing or sending them to collections. OSI’s proposed rules do not require medical providers or creditors to check a patient’s income before suing or sending a patient to collections.

(2) The protection for low-income patients should not expire after one year. Patients who have shown that they are low income should not have to submit paperwork annually to be protected from lawsuits and being sent to collections for a medical bill. OSI’s proposed rules let this protection expire after one year, which would be burdensome for families and medical providers and leave patients whom the Legislature protected at risk.

How to make your voice heard:

  • Submit written comments with subject line “RE: SB71 Proposed Rules”by September 27 at 4:00 p.m.
    • By email to OSI-docketfiling@state.nm.us
    • By mail to OSI Records & Docketing, NM Office of Superintendent of Insurance, P.O. Box 1689, Santa Fe, NM 87504-1689
  • Speak at a virtual public hearing on September 27, 2021 at 9:00 am. How to join:

New Mexico workers celebrate paid sick leave victory

SANTA FE, NM—After six years of organizing efforts, workers and advocates celebrate Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s signing of the Healthy Workplaces Act into law today. Effective July 1, 2022, workers statewide will be able to accrue one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked and up to 64 hours annually. 

The paid sick leave coalition thanks the sponsors of the bill, Reps. Angelica Rubio, Christine Chandler and Patricia Roybal Caballero and Sens. Mimi Stewart and Linda Lopez, for being true champions for New Mexico workers, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for her support. 

Workers have been fighting for this legislation for years, sharing personal stories with lawmakers about being forced to go to work sick or risk losing their paycheck. As a result of this tireless work, paid sick leave is finally a reality and will benefit all of New Mexico’s families and communities. This big win illustrates how critical it is for legislators to hear from New Mexicans—the people who stock groceries, care for others’ children, harvest and serve food and keep our communities going throughout the pandemic. New Mexico workers showed up and made their voices heard. 

This statement is signed by the following: 

  • AARP NM
  • NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fe (CAFe)
  • Center for Civic Policy
  • El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos
  • Enlace Comunitario
  • Equality New Mexico
  • National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees District 1199NM
  • New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty
  • New Mexico Working Families Party
  • New Mexico Voices for Children
  • OLÉ, Organizers in the Land of Enchantment
  • Somos un Pueblo Unido
  • United Food Workers of America Local 1564
  • Women Food & Agricultural Network

Statements from workers and organizations across New Mexico:

Carissa Owen, Restaurant worker and NM CAFe leader, (Las Cruces, NM)
“Paid sick leave is long overdue for New Mexico workers. I have seen restaurants fund expansions, marketing, or new concept rollout instead of investments in their biggest assets: their trained and dedicated workforce. This legislation is necessary for the restaurant industry to take employee health seriously.”

Rosa del Carpio, Worker and El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos member, (Albuquerque, NM)
“I have been working in Albuquerque for almost 15 years without access to paid sick leave. I tested positive for Covid-19 after having to risk going to work to put food on the table. I was worried about getting tested in the first place for fear that a positive test result would force me to quarantine without any income in order to survive. What I feared most as a single mother was infecting my nine-year-old son. Thousands of workers around New Mexico find themselves in situations similar to mine. Having access to paid sick leave is not only a racial justice issue: it will save the lives of workers and families in our communities.”

Marshall Martinez, Director of Equality New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM)
“Paid sick leave is critical for LGBTQ New Mexicans. Queer and Trans people work hourly jobs disproportionately and already face extreme systemic barriers to healthcare. HB 20 helps with one of those barriers and will help provide LGBTQ New Mexicans the opportunity to be able to afford the time off to see our healthcare providers.”

Stephanie Welch, Director of Workers’ Rights at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (Albuquerque, NM)
“No one should have to choose between a paycheck and protecting their and their loved ones’ health. Yet half of New Mexicans who work for private employers have to do exactly that because their employer does not provide paid sick leave. This law will ensure that workers get this basic right. We thank the workers from across the state who spoke out and advocated to legislators, and who won this victory.”

Anamaria Dahle, NM Working Families Party member, (Albuquerque, NM)
“Earning paid sick leave will allow me to obtain treatment to heal my injuries inflicted by my ex-husband over a decade ago. I will also be able to keep up with my doctors’ appointments for my autoimmune disease. So often, single parents’ health is put on the back burner. Thank you for passing HB 20.”

Iman Andrade, OLÉ member, (Albuquerque, NM)
“For me, winning paid sick leave means a safer workplace for me and my coworkers. This means people can actually stay home if they have COVID and not spread it to others. Workers need paid sick leave regardless if there is a pandemic. We can keep people safe from spreading colds and flus, especially in the restaurant and grocery industry. Our workforce is going to be much safer and I am so excited that HB 20 has passed the Senate.”

Bellanira Lozano, Somos Un Pueblo Unido member, (Santa Fe, NM)
“I am a single mother of four children and a domestic worker who takes care of elderly people in Santa Fe. The pandemic hit my family hard. We all got sick and didn’t get paid. This law means families like mine won’t have to decide between getting paid or going to work sick. It’s a tremendous victory for New Mexico’s workers.”

Oriana Sandoval, CEO of Center for Civic Policy, (Albuquerque, NM)
“Today we celebrate the passage of House Bill 20–a statewide Paid Sick Leave program for New Mexico workers. This legislation sends a clear message that families shouldn’t have to worry about shattering their family budget and getting buried under healthcare costs because they can’t afford to lose a day’s pay. We look forward to Gov. Michelle Luján Grisham signing this bold policy into law to take a step forward in ensuring New Mexicans have access to every resource they need to overcome the current pandemic and regain their stability–ensuring the success of our children and future generations.”

James Jimenez, Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children (Albuquerque, NM)
“Paid sick leave has long been a missing piece of the child well-being puzzle in New Mexico, with about half of our workforce lacking this basic benefit. The COVID-19 crisis has made this need even more critical, as families have suffered with the health impacts and the loss of job security and wages. The passage of this bill is a watershed moment for kids in our state and will go far in ensuring New Mexico parents and their families have the opportunity to live healthy lives and continue to contribute to a strong recovery. We applaud the Legislature for boldly rising to the greatest challenge of our time to secure this long-needed policy that will benefit the health and economy of our state.” 

Court blocks attempt to end lawsuit on food and Medicaid assistance


LAS CRUCES—A federal district judge ruled today that the New Mexico Human Services Department must continue to comply with a court order requiring it to fix systemic problems with processing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid applications. 

Judge Kenneth John Gonzales wrote in his order, “New Mexicans, now more than ever, rely on the timely and accurate processing of SNAP and Medicaid applications to obtain much needed help.” 

“This pandemic continues to ravage families’ health and their ability to work,” said Teague Gonzalez, director of Public Benefits at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, which is representing the plaintiffs in the case. “It’s crucial that HSD comply with the law and remove unnecessary barriers to food and healthcare assistance.”

The long-running Hatten-Gonzales lawsuit was originally filed in 1989. While some progress has been made, the court requires a case review to determine if HSD has addressed entrenched problems in administering food and medical assistance. 

In 2016, HSD whistleblowers testified that there was a statewide policy of falsifying information on emergency benefits applications so the agency could pass federal audits and deadlines. This illegal policy resulted in thousands of New Mexican families going without the food assistance they needed.

In 2018, a case review found ongoing errors in the processing of food and medical assistance cases.

In its order, the court found HSD’s request to end the court’s oversight of fixes to the problems “premature” and “counterproductive” and “threatens to set back the progress the parties have made to this point.” 

The judge ordered a case file review of Medicaid and SNAP applications to continue and that parties engage in good faith negotiations. 

“We were surprised that the state’s counsel thought it appropriate to file this motion right now when so many New Mexicans have even more need for help,” said the Center’s Gonzalez. “We will continue our efforts to ensure New Mexicans can access food and healthcare assistance in close coordination with the court appointed Special Master and HSD.”

Judge Kenneth Gonzales’s order can be found here: http://nmpovertylaw.org/hatten-gonzales-v-scrase-order-staying-termination-of-consent-decree-2020-08-21/

The jointly developed corrective action plan can be found here: http://nmpovertylaw.org/hatten-gonzales-v-scrace-joint-motion-to-approve-two-corrective-action-plans-2019-07-10/

Paid sick leave, halting evictions & benefits terminations necessary to mitigate COVID-19 impact on New Mexicans

Groups provide state leaders multiple strategies to protect New Mexico’s residents

ALBUQUERQUE—Advocacy groups from across the state urged New Mexico’s leaders to exercise their emergency powers and provide emergency assistance, access to healthcare, and other relief to stem the rising financial insecurity and income inequality caused by the coronavirus crises. 

The recommendations were sent to Governor Lujan Grisham, Attorney General Balderas, Chief Justice Nakamura, Speaker Egolf, Senator Papen, Mayor Keller, Mayor Webber, Mayor Hull, and Mayor Miyagishima. 

“Our state’s response must focus on and involve the communities already experiencing the impact of economic inequality,” states the letter sent by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, Forward Together, Strong Families New Mexico, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico, New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, New Mexico Voices for Children, NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fé – CAFé, Health Action New Mexico, United South Broadway, Fair Lending Center, Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), Catholic Charities – Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico Social Justice Equity Institute, McKinley Co. Assn. of Retired Educators, and multiple individuals.

Recommendations include:

Protect workers 

  • Enact emergency paid sick leave and pass local paid sick leave ordinances that guarantee paid sick leave for all workers. 
  • Eliminate the one-week delay in unemployment benefits. 

Ensure economic security 

  • Create a new emergency income assistance program. 
  • Stay wage garnishments and bank levies in the courts. 
  • Streamline access to Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and cash assistance for workers who have lost their jobs by allowing enrollment when filing for unemployment insurance. 
  • Extend eligibility, suspend work requirements and sanctions, and delay all public benefits recertification requirements. 

Healthcare for all 

  • Provide for immediate access to healthcare through Medicaid for all Medicaid applicants.  
  • Assure immigrant communities that screening and treatment for COVID-19 do not impact public charge determinations and will not have immigration consequences. 
  • Ensure hospitals and clinics are safe spaces regardless of immigration status.  
  • Require employers maintain health insurance benefits regardless of reduction of work hours resulting from the pandemic. 
  • Call for a federal amendment to the Medicaid statutes to add a state option extending coverage to the uninsured for all medical services in connection with COVID-19. 

Moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, towing, and utility shut offs 

  • Stay all court eviction and foreclosure proceedings statewide to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent an increase in homelessness in New Mexico.   
  • Create a rent relief fund to help impacted families. 
  • Stop all utility shut offs. 
  • Place a moratorium on towing vehicles. 

Include all New Mexicans in the response to this crisis 

  • Protect New Mexicans without homes by providing emergency resources to shelters and on-location medical care.
  • Local governments should affirm their institutional commitment to all immigrant community members who may be targets of xenophobic behavior. 
  • Reduce the number of people in custody and release nonviolent defendants and people serving sentences for nonviolent offenses. 

The groups commend government officials and state leaders for the expedient initial steps already taken to mitigate the harm New Mexicans are facing. However, the groups maintain that much remains to be done without delay to protect the wellbeing of all New Mexico’s families.  

The full recommendations can be found here: http://nmpovertylaw.org/strategies-to-mitigate-covid-19-impact-on-nm-2020-03-18/

Report shows gaps in New Mexico’s early childhood agenda

ALBUQUERQUE—According to a new report, more investment in home visiting, child care assistance, cash assistance, and minimum wage enforcement would significantly improve New Mexico families’ stability and economic outlook. The report, “New Mexico’s Infant Toddler Agenda,” was authored by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

“Every child should have the opportunity to succeed in life, yet nearly a third of New Mexico’s 70,000 infants and toddlers live in poverty. Across the board, state investments are too low in programs that address economic barriers and support opportunities for families with young children,” said Sovereign Hager, legal director at NMCLP. “Every family should have safe and affordable child care, sound parental support, and resources to pay for necessities. But there are huge gaps between what programs work for families and what our state funds.” 

Children’s growth and development are shaped by early life experiences. Good health, empowered families, and positive early learning environments foster children’s physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development. Culturally and linguistically appropriate programs and policies that are developed in collaboration with local communities are also essential to their success. 

Home visiting empowers parents 

In New Mexico, home visiting services provide support, coaching, and resources for parents from trained professionals during pregnancy and in children’s earliest years. Home visiting improves children’s mental and physical health, supports school readiness, and helps keep children and families safe. 

However, the report notes the lack of home visiting programs in New Mexico and that few programs are culturally and linguistically relevant to the state’s diverse communities. In New Mexico, an estimated 157,600 children—half of whom are infants and toddlers—were eligible for home visiting programs in 2017 but only approximately 5,000 slots were available in 2018. 

The report recommends that New Mexico fully leverage Medicaid dollars for home visiting and expand its current pilot program to include all Medicaid-eligible families.

Child care assistance provides high-quality child care and early education opportunities

The state’s Child Care Assistance Program makes it possible for low-income parents to work or go to school while providing their children with a safe place to learn and grow. The report notes that when families have access to child care assistance, they are better able to access high quality child care and have more resources for basic needs. They also have far fewer child care related work disruptions.

Unfortunately, even after increases to the program’s budget this year, the vast majority of families in New Mexico face high out of pocket costs even when they get assistance. Eighty one percent of families who receive child care assistance in New Mexico had to pay a share of costs in 2017 compared to the national rate of 62%.

Data shows that too many families simply cannot afford to participate in the program. Enrollment falls for families earning between 25% and 50% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines—when New Mexico starts imposing unaffordable co-payments.

The report recommends New Mexico eliminate co-payments for families living below 100% FPG and cap out of pocket costs at affordable levels for other families.

Families also face a steep “cliff effect” when their incomes exceed the eligibility threshold for the program. In many cases, this leaves families much worse off than they were before an increase in wages.

In New Mexico, families can earn a maximum of 250% of the FPG (equivalent to $53,325 for a family of three in FY 2019) before becoming ineligible for assistance. The report recommends tiered eligibility policies to smooth the cliff effect by gradually reducing assistance as income rises.

Increasing and enforcing the minimum wage supports economically stable families 

New Mexico’s minimum wage increase went into effect in January 2020. The report notes that an estimated 100,600 children will be helped by their parents’ increased wages.

However, workers can’t benefit from a minimum wage increase if the law isn’t enforced. Too many New Mexico workers are paid less than the minimum wage because employers violate the law. The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions has a statutory obligation to enforce the law, but DWS is underfunded and overwhelmed by a backlog of over 1,800 wage complaints. One in five workers has been waiting for their case to be investigated or to be paid wages owed for over a year and a half. Some have been waiting as long as eight years. 

The report recommends the state strategically and robustly enforce the law to maximize benefits to workers and their families.

Improving cash assistance to support economically stable families

Increased income during early childhood is associated with improved health, better school performance, and even increased earnings later in a child’s life. Even a small amount of additional income can be a stabilizing force, allowing parents to purchase diapers, groceries, or other household necessities. 

Although many families with low incomes could benefit from cash assistance, which provides a temporary monthly benefit and work supports for parents, only a small percent in New Mexico qualify for help because of limited eligibility, ineffective work requirements, and time limits for children. 

The assistance itself is minimal and does not provide enough for families to live on while seeking employment. 

The report recommends New Mexico improve its cash assistance program by offering flexibility, exemptions from work requirements, and allowing children to receive benefits when parents become ineligible or reach time limits.

“Strong investments in programs that impact early childhood are proven to increase well being and economic opportunity for families, but too many of New Mexico’s families with infants and toddlers aren’t able to access programs that would help them the most,” said Hager. “Our state government has an obligation to fix this and must prioritize an agenda that focuses on opportunity for families with young children. This means adequate resources towards programs and services for families with young children, investment in culturally and linguistically relevant programming, and work across agencies to streamline and integrate eligibility and enrollment processes.”

“New Mexico’s Infant Toddler Agenda” can be found here: http://nmpovertylaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CLASP_NewMexico_infants_brochure3.pdf

5 things you should know about the new public charge rule

By Teague González, director of Public Benefits

Changes to the “Public Charge” rule go into effect today. Some of the changes include allowing the government to deny permanent residency (green cards) and visa renewals to certain lawfully present immigrants who participate in basic need programs like Medicaid, SNAP food assistance, and housing assistance.

The Trump administration is counting on fear to harm immigrant families and turn lifesaving programs against families. But the new public charge rule change applies to very few immigrants. Get all the facts and always talk to someone to make the best choices for your family.

Here are 5 important things you need to know about public charge:

Number 1: The test does not apply to people who are already legal permanent residents — as long as they don’t leave the US for 6 consecutive months. 
Number 2: The rule does not apply to people who want to adjust from legal permanent resident to citizens. 
Number 3: It never applies to US citizen children. A US citizen child’s use of benefits is never counted against their parent no matter the parent’s immigration status. Please do not disenroll or cancel your US citizen children from Medicaid or Food Stamps without talking to someone first. 
Number 4: There are important exceptions to the public charge rule, for example, pregnant women may receive Medicaid during their pregnancies and up to 60 days after delivery and this will not be counted against them when they try to become legal permanent residents. The same goes for Medicaid use by children under 21 years of age who want to become legal permanent residents. 
Many categories of immigrants are exempt from the rule like T and U Visa holders, as are VAWA beneficiaries, and many other statuses. 
Number 5: Many government benefits are not included in the public charge rule like school breakfast and lunch, WIC, CHIP, unemployment benefits and many more. 

This is why it is very important that you talk with someone about the rule change before you make any decisions about canceling your benefits or your children’s benefits. 

Please call 505-255-2840 with any questions. Watch the video in English and Spanish. Get the handout in English or Spanish.