New Mexico is a land rich in culture, diversity, and natural beauty. Yet, our state is also one of the poorest in the country, with over 20% of our population—and almost one-third of our children—living in poverty. In fact, New Mexico consistently has the first- or second-highest child poverty rate in the nation. The prevalence of poverty leads to a host of other problems, including hunger, illness, unequal access to education, insufficient access to water and sanitation, and even homelessness.
Our Issue Areas
The Center uses education, advocacy, and litigation to address these key issues that most affect those living in poverty.
We work to protect and improve access to the main public benefits programs, which form a critical safety net that helps families put food on their tables, keep a roof over their heads, and meet basic necessities. Moreover, the public benefits programs have proven to be the best resource to help families escape poverty in the long term.
We aim to improve health outcomes for all low-income New Mexicans by protecting and expanding access to Medicaid, fighting for affordable healthcare options, and addressing the coverage gaps for individuals not served by healthcare reform—especially those experiencing the greatest barriers to health coverage, such as racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, people residing in rural areas, and Native Americans.
We fight to improve pay and working conditions for low-wage earners in New Mexico, with a special focus on agricultural laborers. We also advocate to increase the minimum wage and ensure a fair workweek for all New Mexicans.
We promote access to a quality education for all New Mexican children by advocating to increase the funding and resources available to our public schools, and promoting evidence-based practices that will correlate to educational success for at-risk students.
We support access to fair loans under reasonable terms in order to end predatory lending practices that trap people in cycles of debt and poverty and stifle New Mexico’s economy.
We work to increase the number of low-income New Mexicans who receive civil legal assistance, with special emphasis on people of color. Civil legal aid helps ensure fairness for all in the justice system, regardless of how much money an individual has.
The Center also explores other issues that affect the poor and underserved, such as racial justice, predatory lending, tax policy, and others.
Yazzie v. State of New Mexico
Yazzie v. State of New Mexico calls for the court to order the State to provide the programming and resources necessary for all public school students to succeed as well as ensure that funds are distributed equitably, including for economically
Applying for public benefits such as Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps) and cash assistance, like TANF and GA, is often a confusing process. For immigrants, the system is even more complicated.
The Center uses legal advocacy to resolve barriers that prevent eligible New Mexicans from accessing public benefits.
Child care assistance helps families with very low‐incomes provide quality care for their children while they work or attend school.
We must end the “school-to-prison” pipeline by eliminating policies that unjustly push kids out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
For the poorest families in our community, cash assistance programs help with the basic necessities like rent, utilities, and clothing costs.
The Center works to improve administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program so that hungry New Mexicans can find help when they need it most.
At the core of a sufficient and equitable education is multicultural and multilingual learning that responds to the cultures, language and heritages of our diverse student populations.
Wage theft—the unlawful failure to pay wages rightfully owed to a worker—is rampant among New Mexico’s low-wage workers.
The Center works to ensure our communities know about healthcare options and how to apply.
With over 1 in 3 New Mexicans relying on Medicaid for their healthcare, we advocate for fully funding the program, making enrollment easier, and ensuring access to services.
The Center works to advance policy changes to provide paid sick leave for all workers.
Research has shown that students do best when their health and nutritional needs are met, and they have the time and opportunities to learn.
Teachers and other educators are at the heart of the education system.
New Mexico’s children and youth face overwhelming obstacles to growing up healthy.
The Center seeks to include more workers like youth, dairy workers, packers, and other agricultural workers who are left out of fundamental protections.
The court was clear that a lack of funding is not an excuse for violating the constitutional rights of our students.
The Center promotes health equity by addressing access and affordability issues at New Mexico’s hospitals.
Many agricultural workers are still excluded from basic health and safety protections. We continue to monitor remaining barriers they have to workers’ compensation.
The Center is widely considered to be a ‘go-to’ source of information and technical assistance for New Mexico’s advocacy community on issues around public benefits.