Local activists and leaders call on the state to help Hispanics
“I implore our governor and state legislators to use ARPA funding and the state budget surplus to help the most vulnerable in the community,” said Kasandra Gandara of the Las Cruces City Council. .
Gandara joined other community leaders from across the state at a press conference Thursday to voice support for such action.
They point to a recent study that highlights the harsh realities faced by Hispanics in New Mexico during the pandemic. The BSP Research survey of 1,000 Hispanics statewide was conducted in December.
Among the findings, 28% of Hispanics in 2020 earned less than $20,000; 60% had $1,000 or less in their savings for financial emergencies; and 30% had difficulty paying bills or utilities. 26% had spent all their savings or had gone into debt.
Dr. Gabriel Sanchez, principal investigator for BSP Research, said depleted savings and tight budgets have been even more difficult for Hispanics in rural areas.
Many of those Hispanic residents, he said, don’t have access to paid sick leave and were more likely to struggle to pay bills or mortgages.
“So again, tough times for everyone across the state, but in particular we look at rural Hispanic residents, we see really gaping inequalities when faced with this particular subgroup of the overall population,” said Sanchez said.
Significant concerns have also been raised for immigrants, who often face barriers obtaining social services and often do not have access to state or federal stimulus payments.
“It’s in the news all the time that immigrants are hard workers starting their own businesses and they’re frontline workers, so critical during the pandemic, but they’ve had some of the hardest to get from. help,” said Isaac Benton of the Albuquerque City Council.
The legislative session begins on Tuesday.