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Aztec officials ask federal delegation to include immigrants in future COVID-19 relief

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

AZTEC — Two elected officials in Aztec have signed a letter asking the federal congressional delegation to include immigrant families in future coronavirus relief packages.

Mayor Victor Snover and Commissioner Mark Lewis are among the nearly 50 elected officials from New Mexico who signed the letter, which was mailed on June 30.

The letter coincides with the release of a study performed by Latinos Decisions that examined the impact COVID-19 has had on Hispanic families in New Mexico. The study did not look at the immigrant status of the nearly 500 Hispanic families surveyed.

The study outlined the challenges the community faces, including having little money saved up for emergencies and not being eligible for unemployment. Amid the uncertainties, many of the people surveyed said they had turned to taking out additional debt — sometimes from payday lenders — or not paying bills.

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

The initial stimulus checks approved in the CARES Act excluded families with mixed immigration status and undocumented immigrants. That meant some American citizens did not receive stimulus checks because they were married to undocumented immigrants.

Snover said he does not see the request as a political request, but rather as a humanitarian one.

“I want people to be able to feed their kids,” Snover said.

He said minorities, including immigrants, are often on the margins and can face greater impacts from economic crashes, like the one caused by the coronavirus.

Snover participated in a press conference on June 30 when the survey results were presented. He said they did not surprise him.

Immigrant rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido hosted an International Workers Day rally, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

"At some point in our lives we're all going to need someone to speak up for us, we'll all need help," he said. "No matter who you are. Somewhere along the way, somebody helped you, put in a word for you, spoke up for you, gave you a hand."

He said he hopes elected leaders will remember that and they will step up when they have an opportunity to "pay it forward" or to "crack that door." 

Snover also expressed hope that "we don't forget our basic humanity as we kind of go about our basic business, even if we're not affected by this directly as far as income loss or loved ones being sick."

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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