Commentary: Many of New Mexico’s immigrants – including some with legal residency – have been mostly left out of ongoing state and federal relief efforts put in place to help blunt the coming recession and assist displaced workers and small business owners. That is one of the conclusions of a report released today to coincide with International Workers’ Day, which is May 1.
“Immigrants are an important part of the cultural and economic fabric of our state and a key part of the workforce that is keeping New Mexico running during this crisis,” said Amber Wallin, Deputy Director of NM Voices for Children. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us in the most basic way how connected we all are – and how the health and well-being of one depends on the health and well-being of the community as a whole. Immigrants are valuable members of our community, but they have almost entirely been left behind in this crisis.”
The report looks at the contributions immigrants make to the state and the nation – including the taxes they pay, the jobs they do, and the people they employ – along with how those contributions benefit the national, state, and local economies. It then lays out how the major relief efforts are excluding many immigrants, and how, in turn, this short-changes the communities in which they live. It closes with policy recommendations the state and federal government should take to include immigrants in the relief programs that are paid for, in part, by the taxes they contribute. The report includes several personal stories from immigrants across the state.
The report was created by the NM Voices for Children policy team, with contributions from El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, NM CAFé (Comunidades en Acción y de Fe), Partnership for Community Action, and Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
“It’s tragically ironic that so many of our immigrant neighbors are working in jobs like food production and construction that have been deemed ‘essential’ during this pandemic, and yet they are almost completely left out of the policies that are supposed to help our communities survive this crisis,” said James Jimenez, Executive Director of NM Voices.
“The COVID-19 health pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the social, racial, and economic inequalities that exist in our nation,” said Marian Méndez Cera, a Worker Rights Organizer with El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos. “Many immigrant workers are on the frontlines of this crisis and will also be vital to rebuilding our economy, yet tens of thousands of mixed-status families in New Mexico, including those with U.S.-citizen children, have been excluded from federal relief efforts. As New Mexicans, we need to work together at the national, state and local levels to ensure all families have the support they need during this unprecedented crisis.”
“Our immigrant families are such a vital part of the fabric of New Mexico, leaving families out of COVID-19 relief efforts is immoral and irresponsible,” said Allex Luna, Lead Organizer with NM CAFé. “This country, and especially New Mexico, will not be able recover from this public health crisis that has so strongly impacted every sector of our economy, if it does not include immigrants in a just relief package. Immigrant families are New Mexican families and it is crucial that our state move forward with an inclusive relief plan that will include all of us.”
“Immigrant workers and families are integral to keeping all New Mexicans safe during this health crisis, as well as to the state’s economic recovery,” said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. “This is especially true in communities with high percentages of immigrants such as Lea, Chaves and Santa Fe counties. Keeping our families out of federal relief efforts will have a disproportionate impact on communities like these. Exclusion of immigrants hurts all New Mexicans.”
The report, Essential but Excluded, is available online at www.nmvoices.org/archives/14197
A fact sheet is attached separately.