Our Work

Our Challenge

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.

Public Benefits

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.

Healthcare

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.

Workers’ Rights

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.

Education

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.

Fair Lending

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.

Civil Legal Services

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.

Special Topics

The Center also explores other issues that affect the poor and underserved, such as racial justice, predatory lending, tax policy, and others.

Our Projects

Opposing Proposed Change to “Public Charge” Rule

Public Benefits

In October, the Trump administration published a proposed rule to limit lawful immigration by drastically changing the definition of a public charge. The proposed rule would penalize immigrant families who get help with basic needs.

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Education Lawsuit Against State of New Mexico Seeks Justice for New Mexico’s School Children

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

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Winning Workers’ Compensation Protections for Farm, Ranch and Dairy Laborers

Workers' Rights

In the District Court and in the Court of Appeals, we won legal victories extending workers’ compensation to New Mexico’s farmworkers.

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Improving Access to Unemployment Benefits

Workers' Rights

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions has failed to meet its legal obligation to provide adequate access to unemployment services.

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Eliminating Barriers to Public Benefits for Eligible Families

Public Benefits

The Center uses legal advocacy to resolve barriers that prevent eligible New Mexicans from accessing public benefits.

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Expanding Access to Child Care Assistance

Public Benefits

Child care assistance helps families with very low‐incomes provide quality care for their children while they work or attend school.

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Ending Punitive Disciplinary Practices

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.

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Improving Economic Security Through Cash Assistance Programs

Public Benefits

For the poorest families in our community, cash assistance programs help with the basic necessities like rent, utilities, and clothing costs.

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Defeating Hunger

Public Benefits

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.

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A Multicultural, Equitable Foundation

Education

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.

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Community Engagement and Healthcare Rights

Healthcare

The Center works to ensure our communities know about healthcare options and how to apply.

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Access to Quality, Affordable Healthcare

Healthcare

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.

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Instruction, Pre-K, and Social Service Programs

Education

Research has shown that students do best when their health and nutritional needs are met, and they have the time and opportunities to learn.

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Increasing the Enforcement of Wage Theft Laws

Workers' Rights

Wage theft—the unlawful failure to pay wages rightfully owed to a worker—is rampant among New Mexico’s low-wage workers.

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Teachers

Education

Teachers and other educators are at the heart of the education system.

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Early Childhood Services for Low-Income Families

Healthcare

New Mexico’s children and youth face overwhelming obstacles to growing up healthy.

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Funding

Education

The court was clear that a lack of funding is not an excuse for violating the constitutional rights of our students.

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Increasing Access to Hospitals and Indigent Care Programs

Healthcare

The Center promotes health equity by addressing access and affordability issues at New Mexico’s hospitals.

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Restoring a Fair Workweek

Workers' Rights

We believe that all workers have the right to a fair workweek, which includes at least one week of earned sick leave and predictable, stable, and transparent schedules.

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Educating the Community and their Advocates about Public Benefits

Public Benefits

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.

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Accountability

Education

Action must be taken to guarantee greater oversight and accountability of the NM Public Education Department to do its job.

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