The Census struggles to count all New Mexicans. Here’s why it matters

You won’t find James Ironmoccasin’s house on Google Maps. To get to his place on the northeastern edge of the Navajo Nation, head east from the 7-2-11 gas station on Highway 64 in Shiprock, take the sixth turn into “Indian Village,” a neighborhood of small, unnumbered houses on a winding, ungraded and nameless dirt lane, and follow for about a quarter mile, then turn at the dilapidated corral of horses. If he’s expecting you, Ironmoccasin, his jet-black hair parted to one side and a string of bright, traditional turquoise beads hanging around his neck, will be waiting to flag you down. “If you are kind of familiar with the area, and you’re good with directions, it’s OK,” he says with a chuckle. “I try to give the easier route.”

Though his family has lived on this square plot of land for the past 60 years, he says he can’t remember a time when any one of them — not his parents, not his sisters, not his brother, and certainly not himself — was counted in the decennial, or 10-year, U.S. census.

Balderas, other AGs sue to stop citizenship census question

Attorney General Hector Balderas says a controversial new question about citizenship on the U.S. Census questionnaire is illegal. Balderas joined a coalition of state attorneys general who filed a lawsuit to stop it. The attorneys general, led by New York AG Eric Schneiderman, along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors sued in federal court  today, saying the question would result in an illegal undercount of the population. The fear is that the question would cause an undercounting of those that fear the federal government would use the information to arrest or even deport non-citizens. The coalition argues the U.S. Constitution calls a count to determine “the whole number of persons in each state”—and has nothing to do with a person’s  legal status.

The Trump appointee behind the move to add a citizenship question to the census

In December, the Department of Justice requested that the Census Bureau add a question to the 2020 survey that would ask respondents to reveal whether or not they are U.S. citizens. Since ProPublica first reported the DOJ’s letter, civil rights groups and congressional Democrats have announced their opposition, arguing that in the midst of President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown, the question will lead many people to opt out of the census, resulting in an inaccurate population count. A lot is at stake. The once-a-decade population count determines how House seats are distributed and helps determine where hundreds of billions of federal dollars are spent. But one question regarding the December letter remained unclear.

Study: Axing driver’s license law would cost state money, jobs

A study released Monday offers a new take on a now-old debate in the New Mexico legislature—driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. The survey, published by the Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, finds that removing the state’s driver’s license law would cost the state jobs and money. More specifically, the study estimates that the state would lose $38.5 million each year, along with drops of 3 percentage points in labor participation and 1 percentage point in employment. The study examined a proposal pushed by House Republicans and Gov. Susana Martinez over the past few years, though they are looking at a different proposal this year. “We’re looking at 1,400 jobs that are going to be vacant,”  co-author Joaquin Alfredo-Angel Rubalcaba told NM Political Report.

Report: NM fourth-most dangerous state in the U.S.

New Mexico is once again the fourth-most dangerous state in the country, at least according to the latest yearly survey of violent crime by 24/7 Wall Street. The annual survey from the financial news website is based mainly from violent crime rates from the FBI 2014 Uniform Crime Report, which is the most comprehensive look at crime in the nation. It will be sure to fuel the effort from New Mexico Republican legislative leadership and Gov. Susana Martinez to pass “tough on crime” bills this upcoming legislative session. Republicans this session are supporting a tougher state “three strikes” law against violent repeat offenders, adding law enforcement officers as a protected class in the state’s Human Rights Act and increasing their pay. “The data clearly shows that violent crime in New Mexico is too high, and we need to do something about it,” State Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, said in a prepared statement from House Republicans.

Here’s why NM is ranked as the worst-run state in the U.S.

If you’ve been reading 24/7 Wall St. recently, you’ll note that it doesn’t have much good to say about New Mexico. The New York financial news website is getting a lot of local attention for ranking New Mexico at the bottom of its annual Best and Worst Run States in America survey. But just how did the news organization come to its conclusions? Four researchers spent roughly four months gathering data to make the list, according to 24/7 Wall St.

Census Bureau: NM makes major gains in uninsured rate

Another study has found that the amount of uninsured New Mexicans fell since the passage of health care overhaul legislation. This time, the U.S. Census Bureau released data on Wednesday that showed the uninsured rate in New Mexico fell from 18.6 percent in 2013 to 14.5 percent in 2014, one of the largest drops in the nation. Nationwide numbers showed a drop from 13.3 percent to 10.4 percent. The numbers are in line with other recent uninsured rate numbers that showed improvements both in New Mexico and nationwide. A Gallup poll from earlier this year showed New Mexico’s uninsured rate at 13.1 percent, from 20.2 percent in 2013.