A New Mexico Voices for Children report from August says “New Mexicans who speak languages other than English, particularly immigrants and refugees, are excluded because of systemic inequities in language access. The inadequacy of our state’s multilingual interpretation and translation services causes significant hardship in many New Mexico communities because language access is critical for both good health and financial security.”
Amber Wallin, executive director of NMVC, said New Mexico legislators should continue to enact legislation that will positively impact families and children, particularly families of color. “During this Legislative session we’re continuing to focus on public policy to provide robust safety net support, especially in direct economic assistance for families who need it the most, especially for low-income front line workers, refugee and immigrant families unable to access key forms of relief,” she said.
Of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants within the United States, around 60,000 reside in New Mexico. According to the nonprofit New Mexico Voices For Children, that group of 60,000 pays more than $67.7 million annually in state and local taxes.
A recent New Mexico Voices for Children report, Eligible but Excluded, said that federal law requires state agencies to provide “meaningful access” to people who speak languages other than English but many state agencies in New Mexico have no plans in place to improve language access. This makes breaking a system of economic hardship difficult and is inequitable, the report states.
“We must not allow the oil and gas industry’s outsized impact on our state budget and economy to be an excuse to ignore the detrimental effects of fossil fuel dependency on our climate, our air quality, and the health of our families,” Jimenez said. “The final OCC rule banning routine venting and flaring is a good start.”
“We’re concerned that private, for-profit prisons create a perverse incentive to incarcerate more people and keep them in longer,” said Bill Jordan, a lobbyist for the nonprofit New Mexico Voices for Children.
But according to New Mexico Voices for Children, 51 percent of adults in households with children in New Mexico have lost employment since March. “We were really surprised to see how high that number is, but we know it points to a weakness that already exists,” she said.
In 2004, Lujan Grisham became health secretary for then-Gov. Bill Richardson. James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, remembers her well. He served as secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration before becoming Richardson’s chief of staff. “She was kind of a pain, but only in the sense that she was a terrific advocate and didn’t want to let go until she knew that she absolutely had to,” Jimenez said.
James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, says the congressional impasse over a comprehensive immigration bill left approximately 6,000 New Mexico DACA recipients in limbo. "The main reason we have DACA is because of the failure of the Congress to be able to pass meaningful immigration reform, which is really putting families in a very challenging, very harmful position," he states.
Trump sought to end the program by questioning whether former President Barack Obama had overstepped his authority by creating the program through executive order. James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, called Trump’s efforts ironic. “The irony is that the Trump administration never misses an opportunity to claim no limits to what the president can do,” Jimenez said.