Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Advocates for immigrant and worker rights filled the Roundhouse on Monday to push for more census funding and other legislative priorities.
In a bilingual rally, elected officials and others said they hope to secure approval from the Legislature for $8 million in additional funding for census outreach – to ensure immigrants are counted – and for the state to hire extra investigators to address a backlog of cases involving minimum-wage violations.
Other priorities include legislation aimed at preventing disclosure of New Mexicans’ personal information – such as sexual orientation and immigration status – unless legally required, such as through a court order.
The boisterous rally attracted about 150 people. Representatives of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and other organizations participated.
Part of the event was dedicated to highlighting the importance of immigrants to the state economy. Immigrants make up about 13% of the state’s workforce in oil and gas, agriculture, construction and other key industries, according to Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
Among the legislative priorities mentioned Monday are:
• House Bill 148, to extend the state’s working families tax credit to immigrant taxpayers.
• House Bill 108 and Senate Bill 107, to prohibit state employees from disclosing private information.
• Senate Bill 4, to allocate an extra $8 million to census outreach.
Also sought is funding in the state budget to hire new investigators to help resolve 1,900 open claims of wage theft.
“We need your help,” Lt. Gov. Howie Morales said of the census count.
Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo said the census tabulation is a vital source of revenue for communities throughout New Mexico.
“Please join us in ensuring you are counted,” Jaramillo said.
Jaramillo is running for state Senate this year, challenging incumbent Richard Martinez in the Democratic primary.