Practical Changes State Agencies Can Make to Increase Equity in Application Processes for Immigrant Families

Medicaid and income support programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and cash assistance, are proven to increase health and economic opportunity for families and communities overall. However, many people who qualify confront barriers to these supports. This is the case for many immigrant families, and particularly those in which some members are U.S. citizens and others aren’t (mixed-status families). These families contribute substantially to the tax base that funds these programs. But data shows that, nationwide, mixed status families have less access to these programs than families comprised entirely of U.S. citizens. In New Mexico, families that include immigrants have been historically under-enrolled due to state agency policies and practices that prevent them from accessing these critical supports. 

Since 2013, advocates and community-based organizations in New Mexico have been successful in pushing state policymakers to take important steps toward more equitable access to benefits for people who are immigrants. By taking practical steps in administering these public programs, state agencies can maximize their collective benefits and the positive impact they have on families. This brief is an overview of work NM Center on Law and Poverty and partners did or are advancing in New Mexico to support equitable access to food and medical assistance for people who are immigrants. 

This brief was written as part of the Advancing Strategies to Align Programs (ASAP) project, which worked with state advocates to improve the policy and operational components of public benefit programs.