Reproductive health care poll finds support among Native Americans in state

A poll taken earlier this year showed that 81 percent of Native Americans around the state believe that women deserve to make their own decisions about reproductive health care without government interference. Two nonprofit organizations, Southwest Women’s Law Center and Forward Together, commissioned the poll last spring and the poll results will be released later this fall. Latino Decisions conducted the poll. New Mexico Political Report obtained an unreleased poll summary. Both Forward Together and Southwest Women’s Law Center said giving Native Americans the opportunity to voice their opinions on reproductive health care is important because some state legislators say that Indigenous people are against abortion.

Poll shows majority of Latino parents concerned about distance learning

A majority of Latino parents in New Mexico are concerned their children will fall behind in their education because of extended time away from school and increased online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to newly released survey data. 

The survey was conducted by Latino Decisions, a national polling and research group, and commissioned by a coalition of New Mexico advocacy groups. 

According to the survey, 81 percent of primary caregivers who were polled said they were concerned about their children’s time away from an actual classroom. The survey also showed that 48 percent of Latino families in New Mexico think that help from the state with online education is the most important issue, while 36 percent of those who were surveyed said the most important issue was getting more information about how school will proceed in several weeks. 

Dr. Gabriel Sanchez with Latino Decisions said during a news conference that one of the takeaways from the survey is that many families that were struggling to get by prior to the COVID-19 pandemic are now facing more challenges in order to keep their children engaged in school. 

“For these families, especially thinking about a hybrid model or having to go fully online again in the fall, that time gap from being able to be equipped with the tools to be able to keep up with the education is just going to make those underlying inequalities much greater,” Sanchez said. 

The survey also showed that 28 percent of the families said they only have internet access through a mobile phone and 21 percent said they do not have any access to the internet. 

Sanchez said there are several possible solutions to keep kids on track in their education, but that technical steps like increasing wireless internet access spots across the state and creating distance learning methods not reliant on the internet need to happen soon. 

“I think we have a bit of time, but that time is shrinking, to be able to make some aggressive steps to ensure that all children, not just those that have access to high speed internet, are able to continue with their education,” Sanchez said. 

Johana Bencomo, a Las Cruces city councilor and the director of faith-based advocacy group 

New Mexico CAFé, said keeping primarily Spanish speaking families updated can help ease anxiety or confusion about what’s expected of parents and students. 

“For [CAFé], the thing that’s most important is, and we’ve been doing this with a lot of our partners statewide since this pandemic began, it’s just really bridging the communication gap and ensuring that our families have good information and relevant information in Spanish,” Bencomo said. 

Javier Martínez, the executive director of Partnership for Community Action and a New Mexico state representative, said complicating the issue is the fact that many immigrant families do not qualify for federal or state financial assistance and cannot find jobs that allow them to work from home. 

“Those folks, in many cases, absolutely have to leave the house to go work in whatever trade they’re in, and that’s a complicating factor,” Martínez said. “So we are working actively with the state to identify some sort of program to help support those families.”

Martínez said his group asked Albuquerque Public Schools to create a technical assistance process to at least partially remove the burden from individual teachers. 

“One of the things we saw between the end of March and the end of May, was that you had teachers pulling triple duty, sometimes teaching, [and also doing] social work and technical assistance for families to use that technology, and that’s unfair,” Martínez said. “It’s unfair for the teachers and for the student and is unfair for the family.”

The survey results come weeks before New Mexico schools are set to start. The state’s Public Education Department has largely left specifics of how the year will go up to individual districts.  

Poll finds Hispanic families still in need of relief

A recent survey of 480 Hispanics in the state found that close to half have $1,000 or less in savings and nearly a quarter have $100 or less. The survey from Latino Decisions, in partnership with several other nonprofit organizations, found that 49 percent of Hispanics surveyed have $1,000 or less set aside for emergencies and 24 percent have $100 or less in savings. In addition, 48 percent have had their hours or pay cut since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. A group of 45 elected officials, including some from the state’s three largest cities of Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces as well as other cities and counties around the state, signed a letter sent to New Mexico’s congressional leadership Tuesday asking that all residents, regardless of immigration status, be included in the next federal relief bill. Migrants and refugees who lack social security numbers were left out of the federal relief CARES Act in late March.

Midterms could be key, with New Mexico’s abortion rights protections at a crossroads

During a sit-down earlier this month in the sparse Albuquerque administrative office for Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, CEO Vicki Cowart wondered aloud if the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision had lulled much of the public into taking legal abortion for granted. Here in New Mexico, abortion access has been solidly maintained by decades of activism by rights proponents and their collaborations with supportive elected officials. “Two generations of women have grown into adults with this not being an issue,” said Cowart. Yet two generations of women have seen gradual rollbacks in abortion rights and access in many other states across the country, where anti-abortion activists intent on ending the practice have been doggedly, methodically successful. Read this story’s companion piece, “NM state law, the U.S. Supreme Court and abortion access” here. 

Roe v. Wade “is in tatters now,” said Cowart.

Poll: Most in NM want Senate license compromise bill

A national research and polling group released data on Monday that, they say, shows that a majority of New Mexicans are in favor of a previous Senate bill that would allow the option of getting a standard driver’s license or one that is Real ID compliant. Somos un Pueblo Unido, an immigrant right’s group held a press conference to announce findings by polling group Latino Decisions. Somos un Pueblo Unido commissioned the poll. The group opposes bills that would bar those who are in the country illegally from getting driver’s licenses. Gabriel Sanchez, a University of New Mexico professor and Latino Decisions pollster said the group’s poll revealed that 56 percent of registered voters in New Mexico are in favor of giving New Mexicans the choice to have a Real ID license or not.

Hispanic uninsured rate plummets after healthcare reform

A survey found that the uninsured rate among Hispanics in New Mexico plummeted since the implementation of health care reform, also known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. The results “provide strong evidence that the ACA is working among New Mexico Hispanics,” the pollster, Latino Decisions, said in announcing the results. The poll found that only 8 percent of Hispanic adults lack health insurance, compared to 23 percent in 2013, before the health care reform law went into effect. However, 19 percent of Hispanic adults did not have health insurance for at least one month last year. The poll was conducted for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy (RWJF-CHP) and the NMCARES-Health Disparities Center.