ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A nonprofit is accusing the New Mexico Human Services Department of imposing illegally harsh rules on food stamp recipients earlier this month and has asked a federal judge to halt them, saying they violate an ongoing consent decree.
HSD rules effective Jan. 1 in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program mean more than 17,000 New Mexicans will be limited to three months of aid if they can’t find a 20-hour-a-week job or a qualifying job-training program, according to the request for injunctive relief filed Wednesday in federal court by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.
The center has asked U.S. District Judge Kenneth Gonzales for a fast-track hearing on the matter.
Federal law requires states to have employment and training programs to help qualifying households attain employment skills and imposes sanctions for noncompliance. But it also allows waivers in states with high unemployment, and New Mexico’s unemployment rate is the highest in the nation, the filing says.