We celebrate the impact of our efforts in partnership with communities to advance justice and create change in New Mexico. We look forward to continuing the ongoing fight for social and economic justice. Below are snapshots of our major efforts and accomplishments in our first 25 years.
COVID-19 Relief: NMCLP quickly responds to the COVID-19 crisis by working with state officials and community partners to expand relief efforts and address barriers. We develop and circulate “Know Your Rights” materials and videos on housing, employment, food and income assistance, healthcare, and childcare. We continue to defend a long-standing court order that requires the state to fix systemic problems with SNAP and Medicaid applications, with the Judge agreeing to maintain ongoing court oversight.
Groundbreaking Healthcare Legislation! Working closely with community organizers, we co-lead efforts to secure groundbreaking legislation, including a Health Care Affordability Fund to expand coverage for more than 30,000 people, protections against medical debt for low-income patients, the prohibition of discrimination against immigrants in local healthcare programs, and statewide paid sick leave for all workers.
Student Access to Internet & Technology: Representing family plaintiffs, we win a court order requiring the state to immediately provide computers and high-speed internet to thousands of students who do not have access for remote learning, especially in rural areas.
Movement Towards Universal Childcare: After years of our advocacy with families and workers’ rights groups, the state finalizes new Child Care Assistance regulations in 2021 that expand access to more households, remove copays during health emergencies, allow parents to apply electronically, and fix major barriers to the program.
Housing & Rental Assistance: We co-lead efforts with policymakers, legal aid attorneys, and community-based organizations that result in the state directing over $28 million in housing and rent relief funds towards families during the COVID-19 crisis. We represent residents in a class action lawsuit against the owners and managers of six Albuquerque-area mobile home parks, challenging widespread evictions and other legal violations.
Historic Ruling in Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico Education Lawsuit! In 2018, families and school districts, represented by NMCLP, win a landmark court ruling declaring that the state is violating New Mexico’s constitution by failing to provide a sufficient education to Native American students, English language learners, low-income students, and students with disabilities.
Leadership Change: In 2018, the board unanimously hires longtime NMCLP attorneys Sireesha Manne as executive director and Sovereign Hager as legal director.
Drivers’ License Victory: Working with Somos Un Pueblo Unido, we successfully represent community groups in litigation to end unlawful state regulations that were preventing senior citizens, immigrants, and people experiencing homelessness from obtaining driver’s licenses or ID cards, which are needed to go to work or school, obtain housing, or seek medical care.
Child Care Assistance Court Order: Representing families and community groups, we obtain a court order requiring the state to fix problems with its administration of the Child Care Assistance program, expanding access for roughly 20,000 children whose parents are working or seeking job training.
Wage Theft Victory and New Minimum Wage Laws: NMCLP represents workers who win an important court ruling against an Albuquerque restaurant that illegally stole wages from tipped workers, recovering lost earnings for over 150 employees and setting a precedent for minimum wage enforcement. We also support successful coalition efforts to raise New Mexico’s minimum wage and end the unfair exclusion of domestic workers from the law.
Transform Education NM Launches! We co-found the Transform Education NM coalition to advance a community-led vision for equity in education. Rallied by the Yazzie/Martinez court decision, the collective efforts of community groups, education leaders, and legislators push the state to expand investments in classrooms, teachers, pre-K, and extended learning programs—critical first steps in a long-term campaign.
Award for Bilingual Education: NMCLP receives an award from the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education in honor of our commitment to and advocacy for multicultural and multilingual education policy.
SNAP & Medicaid Changes: After years of litigation and advocacy, we convince the Human Services Department to correct longstanding illegalities in administering the Medicaid and SNAP programs.
Landmark Court Ruling for Agricultural Workers! After years of litigation, NMCLP wins a landmark New Mexico Supreme Court ruling in Griego v. New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration declaring it unconstitutional for the statewide workers’ compensation system to exclude roughly 15,000 individuals who work on New Mexico’s farms, ranches, and dairies.
Illegal Action in SNAP Cases: NMCLP brings several caseworkers from the Human Services Department to testify in federal court that HSD managers asked them to falsify applications for expedited or emergency food assistance benefits. Their testimony exposes statewide, systemic illegalities in processing food assistance and leads to the appointment of a Special Master to investigate systemwide issues at the agency.
20th Anniversary Recognition: NMCLP celebrates its milestone 20th anniversary and receives the 2016 AMICUS Award for Significant Contributions to the Advancement of Law by the NM Trial Lawyers Association.
Executive Director Transition: Due to his declining health, executive director Kim Posich announces his resignation and the board of directors hires Edward Tabet-Cubero as his replacement.
Wage Theft and Minimum Wage Victories: We represent workers and workers’ rights groups in a successful class action settlement addressing the state’s failure to enforce wage and hour laws and hold employers accountable for violations. The settlement agreement enables thousands of low-wage employees to recover lost wages. NMCLP attorneys also defeat two unexpected legal challenges to the Albuquerque minimum wage ordinance, protecting increased wages for over 40,000 workers and preserving the right of voters to enact legislation.
Collaborative Healthcare Advocacy: NMCLP attorneys and our partners successfully fight off drastic cuts and harmful policy changes to Medicaid. We also work with partners Strong Families New Mexico and Partnership for Community Action to launch NM Together for Healthcare —a multi-racial and geographically diverse coalition of family leaders advocating for innovative healthcare solutions.
Native American Budget & Policy Institute Launches! With the Leadership Institute and the UNM Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy, we co-launch the Native American Budget and Policy Institute, which supports the power of Indigenous communities to effect self-determined, systemic change with research and advocacy.
Medicaid Expansion! We co-lead an extensive statewide advocacy campaign to convince the Governor to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, resulting in more than 250,000 low-income adults becoming eligible for the program and paving the way for roughly 32,000 more children to enroll in the future.
Minimum Wage Enforcement for Agricultural Workers: In 2014, we convince the Department of Workforce Solutions to enforce the state minimum wage for agricultural workers—an important first step towards ending outdated and unfair labor classifications.
Education Lawsuit: Representing parents, children, and school districts, in 2014 NMCLP files Yazzie v. State of New Mexico in the 1st Judicial District Court challenging the state’s failure to provide a sufficient education for all children.
Healthcare Upon Re-Entry after Incarceration: NMCLP leads efforts to pass legislation in 2015 to stop the state from terminating Medicaid for people who are incarcerated and instead allow coverage to be suspended and re-activated prior to re-entering the community—an approach proven to increase access to healthcare and public safety.
Healthcare Access in Bernalillo County and at UNM Hospital: In 2014, we work with community partners in a multi-year campaign to secure a new agreement between Bernalillo County and UNM Hospital to expand healthcare access for county residents and convince UNMH to stop sending low-income, uninsured patients to collections.
Medicaid Cuts and Tribal Sovereignty: We coordinate an advocacy campaign in 2012 to fend off proposed new Medicaid fees and service cuts. In 2013, NMCLP stands with New Mexico’s Tribes and Pueblos to win a key Medicaid policy change protecting Native Americans’ right to control their own healthcare.
Emergency Food Benefits: In 2012, we persuade the Human Services Department to streamline its processing of emergency food benefits applications and begin immediately issuing cards “over-the-counter” for some clients.
Award for Fighting for Justice! NMCLP’s work is recognized with the Fighting for Justice Award from the UNM School of Law’s Mexican American Law Student Association.
Resources for New Mexico’s Civil Legal Aid System: NMCLP continues to consistently lead the civil legal services community to advocate for and secure more than $16 million in state appropriations to the Civil Legal Services Fund.
Language Access and Financial Assistance at UNM Hospital: We negotiate a settlement to a lawsuit on behalf of community groups in 2007 requiring UNMH to overhaul and dramatically improve its language interpretation and translation services for over 30,000 patients, causing the hospital to become a model for other healthcare systems. We work collaboratively with a community coalition to convince UNMH to end a policy of requiring patients to pay 50% of expected charges for surgeries in advance.
Statewide Civil Legal Services Fund: With support from Peter Mallery, Tom Horan, and many others, we lead advocacy for a recurring state appropriation of $2.5 million for organizations providing free civil legal services to low-income New Mexicans.
Medicaid Closures: We conclude a successful multi-year campaign convincing the state to correct problems with the Medicaid renewal process that were improperly throwing roughly 10,000 people—mostly children—off the Medicaid program every month. After the state adopts changes that we and our allies had sought for years, Medicaid enrollment increases by 40,000 within the first three months.
Water in Pajarito Mesa: NMCLP works with residents from Pajarito Mesa, an off-the-grid community of low to no-income families, to negotiate the establishment of a water filling station.
Medicaid Improvements: In 2009, we support the Human Services Department to remove the five-year waiting period for lawfully residing children and pregnant women to apply for Medicaid, and to implement changes that automatically enroll children for 12 months of Medicaid, stabilizing their healthcare access. In 2010, we co-lead a campaign with advocates to stop funding cuts to Medicaid during the recession and raise awareness of the program’s importance.
Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit: Representing injured workers and community groups, we file an equal protection lawsuit challenging the exclusion of farm and ranch laborers from the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act.
New Leadership: In 2002, the board hires Kim Posich as executive director. In 2005, Gail Evans becomes NMCLP’s legal director. Their leadership ushers in an era of expanded growth and impact for the organization.
Medicaid For People With Disabilities: In 2002, NMCLP leads successful advocacy efforts to end the illegal reduction of the Medicaid personal care option program, which funds community-based services for people with significant disabilities.
Food Benefits for Pregnant Women: In 2003, we convince the state to provide food assistance to pregnant women throughout their pregnancy, in accordance with federal law.
Loan Repayment Assistance Program for Attorneys: In 2005, we lead advocacy efforts to establish New Mexico’s first Loan Repayment Assistance Program—helping thousands of attorneys pay their law school loans while working in public interest jobs.
Due Process in Cash Assistance Program: Working with Joe Goldberg and other private attorneys, NMCLP wins Taylor v. Johnson in the New Mexico Supreme Court in 1997, ending the governor’s unconstitutional cash assistance program that denied critical benefits to 72,000 families.
Cash Assistance Program Regulations: In 1999, NMCLP staff work closely with state administrators to draft regulations that shape the future of the NM Works cash assistance program.
Transition Period: Following Bob Ericson’s passing in 1998, Legal Director Nancy Koenigsberg becomes acting executive director, managing and directing the organization during the interim period.
NMCLP’s Launch! A group of visionaries establishes the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty under the leadership of longtime legal service attorney Bob Ericson. After national restrictions prohibit legal service organizations that receive federal funding from conducting class action litigation, lobbying, or representing many categories of immigrants, they form NMCLP as an independent organization to provide these services for systemic change.