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Report: Many NM Immigrants Excluded From COVID-19 Relief

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A new report estimates that 38,000 children in New Mexico won't benefit from financial relief to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic because their parents are undocumented. (nmpovertylaw.org)
A new report estimates that 38,000 children in New Mexico won't benefit from financial relief to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic because their parents are undocumented. (nmpovertylaw.org)
 By Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM - Producer, Contact
May 1, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Many of New Mexico's immigrants, including some with legal residency, will not receive the federal government's $1,200 stimulus checks or other financial relief, according to a new report.

Amber Wallin, deputy director of New Mexico Voices for Children, says the "Essential but Excluded" report shows up to 30,000 adult New Mexicans will not get stimulus payments to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic because some members of the household don't have Social Security numbers.

She says the health crisis is highlighting the inequality immigrants face.

"Our immigrants in our state work, they pay taxes, they create jobs, they spend money in our economy," says Wallin. "But we also know that many immigrants have been left out of relief measures."

Wallin says New Mexico immigrants pay a billion dollars in federal, state and local taxes each year and many work front-line jobs considered "essential" to keep the state and nation running including at grocery stores, in construction or as farmworkers.

She notes that undocumented immigrants alone account for $68 million in state and local taxes paid in the state of New Mexico.

The federal CARES Act was meant to ease the impacts of the new coronavirus pandemic on families, workers and small businesses. Nonetheless, Wallin notes undocumented workers will take a second hit financially because they're not eligible for unemployment insurance.

She says that includes more than two thousand immigrants who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19 business closures.

"And that's to the tune of about $950 per worker, per week," says Wallin. "So over $2 million per week in unemployment insurance benefits that is not going to unemployed workers in our state. So we know that's a major hit for our families."

About 8% of New Mexico's children have parents who are undocumented, even though many of the children are U.S. citizens.

Wallin says the report has been forwarded to state policy makers, but Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has not announced any plans that would specifically help undocumented populations.

Disclosure: New Mexico Voices for Children/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Early Childhood Education, Human Rights/Racial Justice, Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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