Coalition urges NM to use federal funds for cash assistance

The rotunda in the fall. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE — A coalition that includes elected leaders in Albuquerque and Santa Fe is calling on New Mexico to use a portion of its federal stimulus funds to provide cash assistance to families who have not received other assistance due immigration status or other obstacles.

In a letter to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and lawmakers, the group of elected leaders said many families had fallen through the cracks and were ineligible for much of the pandemic aid that has helped d other New Mexicans – a group that includes residents who have done so. few did not file tax returns and mixed-status immigrant families.

“Immigrants have some of the toughest times to access any help,” Isaac Benton, Albuquerque City Council President, said in an online news conference. “These workers are essential to our economy.

He was one of a handful of speakers who urged lawmakers to send some unspent federal money to the state Department of Human Services for emergency cash assistance programs.

Gabriel Sanchez, a pollster for BSP Research, shared results from a survey of Latino adults in New Mexico — including immigrants and Spanish speakers — which showed that 30% of respondents said a member in their household had difficulty paying bills or utilities in the past year. because of the pandemic. About 24% reported reductions in work hours and 19% job loss.

“It’s sobering data,” Sanchez said.

The results, he said, show “tough times for everyone across New Mexico, especially rural Hispanic residents.”

The survey was sponsored by a host of groups that advocate for the rights of workers or immigrants, including Somos Un Pueblo Unido, El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos and New Mexico Voices for Children.

New Mexico has about $724 million in unallocated federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Lawmakers plan to make some of the money available to boost the student lottery scholarship program, tourism advertising, food banks and legislation to make New Mexico a center for hydrogen energy.

Agreement on a budget package is expected to be at the center of the 30-day session which begins next week.

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