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Pressure mounts for language services at New Mexico agencies

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico welfare agencies are coming under new pressure from a federal judge and state lawmakers to expand translation and oral interpretation services to minority households that don’t speak English or Spanish. Advocacy groups for immigrants and Indigenous populations on Monday announced that a federal judge based in Las Cruces has ordered the state Human Services Department that oversees food stamp and Medicaid benefits to change its automated phone system to offer access to benefits in additional languages. New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty Legal Director Sovereign Hager says residents who speak Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Dari, Arabic and Swahili struggle to find adequate language services to apply for benefits.