SUBSCRIBE NOW
Only $5 for 3 months. Save 83%.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
Only $5 for 3 months. Save 83%.

Survey: Hispanic families, immigrants excluded from COVID-19 relief struggle in New Mexico

Local officials call for 'inclusive' state and federal relief

Algernon D'Ammassa
Las Cruces Sun-News
  • Respondents also discussed views on the death of George Floyd and police violence.

ALBUQUERQUE - A new survey reports that half of Hispanic and Latino families in New Mexico have less than $1,000 cash in reserve to navigate lost or reduced wages or extra expenses during the COVID-19 emergency.

Meanwhile, with undocumented workers excluded from federal relief related to COVID-19, many families with mixed status in New Mexico are straining to make ends meet, with many exhausting their savings and/or turning to expensive payday loans to make ends meet, setting up greater financial burdens for the future. 

Others are reading:A life well-lived: Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez remembers his Tío Sergio

Polling firm Latino Decisions surveyed nearly 500 Hispanic parents of children 18 years old or younger combining bilingual online surveys and telephone interviews between June 4 and 12. 

The survey was commissioned by a coalition of organizations around New Mexico including the Partnership for Community Action, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, NM Voices for Children, El Centro de Igualidad y Derechos, Comunidades de Fe en Acción (commonly known as NM CAFé, based in Las Cruces), and Abriendo Puertas.

For all our reporting from the border region,subscribe to the Las Cruces Sun-News today.

At a virtual news conference Tuesday, the firm released survey responses measuring the economic impacts on Hispanic families in New Mexico, including immigrants.

The sample, which has a margin of error of 4.4 percent, indicated 20 percent of Hispanic families in New Mexico have had someone in their household lose their job since the COVID-19 emergency was declared in March.

Nearly half reported that members of their families had seen reduced hours or pay cuts, with one in three parents or primary caregivers saying they were struggling to meet rent or mortgage payments. 36 percent of respondents who had lost work were not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Partnership for Community Action Executive Director Javier Martinez, also a Democratic member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, introduces Gabriel Sanchez of polling firm Latino Decisions at a virtual news conference on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Also pictured are Aztec Mayor Victor Snover, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber, Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O'Malley, and Spanish language interpreter Peter Katel.

The federal CARES Act, which research group Migration Policy Institute estimates as excluding about 15.4 million people including millions of children because of residency or immigration status, had delivered stimulus payments to 71 percent of New Mexico respondents, but 40 percent of families did not receive additional payments for their children.

Roughly half of the respondents continued to work outside the home, with 31 percent of those working in healthcare industries. 

'Missing the mark as a society'

Participants were also asked about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and large majorities of the respondents said they had watched video footage of former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd died, and used it as a basis for talking to their children about systemic racism.

The respondents also indicated they felt a shared experience of the pain and frustration expressed by Black communities in the United States over violent policing and other systemic oppression, with 77 percent saying they were concerned their children would experience excessive police force in the future. 

MoreJudge rules NM education system still has work to do

"We're really missing the mark as a society, as elected officials and as a federal government," Aztec Mayor Victor Snover remarked during the conference. "Immigrants … regardless of their status have long been the backbone of our society. Without them our economy would literally collapse." 

Snover also called it "patently un-American" that any community would suffer disproportionately because of their ethnic background or place of birth. 

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber and Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O'Malley both noted that many Hispanic community members, including immigrants, were exposed to greater risk from COVID-19 as essential workers and yet treated, as O'Malley put it, "as if they are dispensable." 

Keep reading:New Mexico governor: Phase 2 of reopening on hold as COVID-19 cases increase

O'Malley also called out legislation that prioritized reliefs for businesses over direct assistance to families. 

Doña Ana County Commissioner Manuel Sanchez, representing a community near the U.S.-Mexico border, noted the reliance of the region's agricultural sector on migrant labor and said, "Too often, our immigrant brothers and sisters are overlooked." 

The full report can be read online at https://bit.ly/LDSurveyData.

A letter signed by 45 elected officials from across the state, addressed to the state's federal delegation, called for future federal relief to include immigrant workers and families. 

Read the Latino Decisions report in its entirety here:

Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, adammassa@lcsun-news.com or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.