Many of New Mexico’s Asian/Pacific Islander and African immigrants and refugees are unable to access the assistance they are eligible for due to a pervasive lack of language access at state agencies. That’s one of the main points in a report released today by New Mexico Voices for Children.
“Studies show that it costs 40% more to educate a child from a family earning low wages than to educate their more affluent peers. But our highest poverty districts get just 2% to 3% more in funding per student than the average district does.”
New Mexico Voices for Children Thanks Senator Bennet for Introducing Bills to Reform the Antiquated Oil and Gas Leasing System
"Defunct oil and gas producers have littered New Mexico with orphaned wells while taxpayers are forced to foot the bill to clean them up. Those critical funds could be spent supporting our children and schools instead of cleaning up the mess oil and gas companies have left behind."
New Mexico is no longer ranked last for child well-being by the national 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book. The Data Book, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has New Mexico ranked at 49th – up from 50th last year. The higher ranking correlates with improvements the state was seeing in child well-being prior to the start of the pandemic.
Child Advocates: State Cannot Continue to Leave Taxpayers on Hook for Cleaning Up After the Oil and Gas Industry
“New Mexico already has more than 700 abandoned wells that need to be plugged and the land restored at a cost of millions. Meanwhile, these orphaned wells are likely polluting our air, land, and water. Another 529 wells are at risk of becoming orphaned just on New Mexico’s federal public lands alone. This will leave our children with a terrible legacy of environmental degradation, the health problems created by pollution, and the extraordinary cost to clean it all up. That’s not the kind of future we should be preparing to leave New Mexico’s children.
“Virtually all of incarcerated youth in New Mexico – 99% – have experienced some form of trauma that influenced their decision making,” said Javier Rojo, Research and Policy Analyst with New Mexico Voices for Children. “Tacking court-ordered costs onto an already traumatic experience only adds stress to their lives. The elimination of fines and fees is a big step forward in creating a more just system that focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment.”
All of the speakers touched on the enormous reach of the ARPA and expressed the hope that the Child Tax Credit portion is made permanent. “This is such a far-reaching investment in our children,” said Jimenez. “Advocates like to say that a budget is a moral document. This is a moral statement about the importance of investing in our children.”
“We applaud the passage of the American Rescue Plan. This legislation is the kind of action we need now, when unemployed workers are still struggling to pay their bills, millions of families are falling further behind on rent and at risk of facing homelessness, and parents are worrying about how they will feed their children."
Aside from paying taxes, immigrants in New Mexico have $3.2 billion in purchasing power and immigrant-owned businesses have annual sales of $4.4 billion. Those are among the economic contributions immigrant residents make that support other local businesses and jobs. “Immigrants are actually twice as likely to start a company as are folks who were born here,” said James Jimenez, executive director of NM Voices. “These companies create jobs and economic activity that we would otherwise not have.”
Gov. Lujan Grisham spoke at the press conference about some of her priorities for the current session. “We have a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our children this year,” she said. “Among them – we’re on track to greatly expand education and care programs for our youngest children through the Land Grant Permanent Fund and we’re enacting an equity-first budget for public education that will ensure resources are going where they’re most needed.”