Are Most “Americans” Heartless?

artesia_deport hate

When will we stop hating? Haven’t we learned from our past? Is history doomed to repeat itself?

In 1939, the United States turned over 900 Jewish refugees away and sent women & children back to Europe to die in the Holocaust. Why? They were turned away because “American’s” were afraid that they would take their jobs, bring disease, and many more ridiculous reasons.

The president, FDR, said nothing & did nothing. Almost 66% of “Americans” supported turning them away. They justified their hate and ignorance by believing that they needed to “take care of their own people” and that these desperate refugees needed to “go back where they came from.” They turned their backs on the refugees and sent them to their deaths.

“Americans” would never repeat a horrific act like that again…would they?

artesia_front of march

In Artesia,NM, hundreds of big-hearted people marched to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center to show support and love for over 500 women & children being detained there awaiting deportation.

The women & children in the detention center traveled thousands of miles, risking their lives, to flee dangerous circumstances in their home countries. They come from counties that have been devastated by US policy and interference. Many of these countries are collateral damage of the US war on drugs and communism.

They are fleeing from countries that are torn apart by violence from drug cartels. The cartels make money by feeding America’s never-ending appetite for drugs.

They come from countries that are exploited by global corporations that devastate the local economies. Small farmers and local businesses cannot compete with the mega-corporations. They do not have very many options to make a living.

To make matters worse, severe droughts in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador have destroyed crops and hurt fishing and livestock.

How could anyone blame these families for leaving a completely hopeless situation? What parent would allow their children to grow up like that?

The parents brought their children here hoping to give them a better life. Instead, they are forced to live in prison-like conditions and treated like the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. They are held without formal charges and treated like they are sub-human.

artesia_no human being illegal artesia_truck

The protestors do not want to see history repeat itself. They marched in a “Campaign of Love.” Hundreds of people peacefully marched from Martin Luther King, Jr Park to the FLETC fences.

Police officers lined the street dressed in bulletproof vests and military uniforms. The marchers sang songs to the families and let them know that they were not alone.

The detainees cheered and joined in the songs from behind the fences. The police became agitated and demanded that the marchers leave. They claimed that the detainees were “rioting” because of the marchers.

How is joy and love considered “rioting”? They were just happy to find out that people in the US care about them. They were happy to be treated like human beings for a short period of time.

artesia_police vehicles artesia_miltary police

But the police did not like that. They slowly began to surround the marchers and used intimidation to force them to leave. They followed the marchers back to the park and observed them as they peacefully dispersed.

artesia_police watcher 1 artesia_police watcher 2

The day was both beautiful and disturbing. A handful of hateful anti-immigrant protestors attempted to agitate the marchers by yelling extremely hateful words. But the marchers were there to spread love, not hate. The marchers ignored the hateful words and remained positive.

It is clear that the US government put the women & children in a remote facility hoping that they would be “out-of-sight & out-of-mind.” It is an attempt to make these brave people irrelevant to the average “American.” By doing this, they can send these people back to the violence, famine, and poverty that they attempted to escape.

The world MUST pay attention to what is going on. We cannot repeat the past.

 

artesia_statue of liberty

Inscription on the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, Tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

KOB News: Police:It’s the largest protest Artesia has ever seen http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S3535123.shtml?cat=516#.U_GY8VbfZ0s

New Mexicans Ask: Does it really matter if I vote?

Voting

Does it really matter who I vote for? Will there be any difference if Gary King wins? In response to my last post, a reader has commented that they will not vote in the upcoming election out of protest. The reader states that voting for Gary King is not a better alternative to Governor Susana Martinez.

confusion

I will admit, I am not thrilled with the Democratic candidate. He does not represent the majority of New Mexicans. What does he know about struggling to survive, poor education, and police brutality?

But… that does not mean that I will refuse to vote for him. I cannot sit by and watch Governor Martinez get re-elected. Absolutely no good can come from another term of right-wing politics. By refusing to vote, you are essentially casting your vote for Susana Martinez. Gary King needs every voter to show up and cast their vote.

Also, there is a difference between the two candidates. Maybe he is not the ideal candidate, but he does believe in some policies that will be a MAJOR help to those who are struggling. He wants to raise the minimum wage to help people survive. That may not be the only answer to fixing our struggling state, but if it is the only thing he ever gets through, it will be worth it.

move forward

We MUST vote. If we make our voice heard, we can make a difference. We can fix New Mexico, but it will take time. Small steps in the right direction are what matters.

#OurUNM holds symbolic Die-In to give students a voice

OurUNM Die In Group 5

The #OurUNM Student movement held a symbolic Die-In in front of Zimmerman Library on Wednesday, May 7th. The event was designed to allow students to express how the system has failed them. Students outlined each others silhouette with chalk and then placed a message inside to represent their symbolic death. The Die-In last for almost 2 hours and hundreds of students either witnessed or participated in it.

The messages covered a wide variety of concerns and many of the onlookers were inspired to ask questions. They did not know that so many systematic problems existed. No matter how many people actually chalked, the reality is that the event sparked conversations that may have never been brought up to some students.

OurUNM Die In IgnoredOurUNM Die In law student ratio

Some of the messages directly addressed racial inequality and bias on campus. One student wrote that they are the only black student in their class and they feel like they are ignored. It is difficult for a young person to have nobody else in a class that looks like them. Another student pointed out that there are only 4 African-American students in the UNM School of Law (out of 330). It makes me wonder how we can have a fair system of justice if the only law school in the entire state of New Mexico only has 4 African-American students.

OurUNM Die In HomelessOurUNM Die In FoodOurUNM Die In housing

One student pointed out that he was homeless while another was concerned the they did not have enough money to buy food. Last year there were over 400 homeless students at CNM and many more at UNM. These students do not have a permanent place to live while they attempt to better their lives. That is unacceptable. To make matters worse, full time students are not eligible for many public benefits. Students cannot get SNAP (food stamps) or commodities.

OurUNM Die in Police Brutality

Students discussed mounting debt and sky high tuition rates. Others were worried about the Bridge and Lottery Scholarship, poor academic advising due to a 800:1 student to advisor ratio, and police brutality. The list goes on and on. It is clear that the system is broken. Students do not know who to turn to for help. They are hungry for change and will force the system to react.

New Mexico’s Hungry ask “Please, NM, can we have some more?”

In Charles Dickens’s classic novel, Oliver Twist, a nine year old Oliver famously asks, “Please, sir, I want some more.” Oliver is described as nine-year-old orphan residing in the parish workhouse where the boys are “issued three meals of thin gruel a day, with an onion twice a week, and half a roll on Sundays.”The master he is requesting the food from “was a fat, healthy man.” In reaction to Oliver’s audacity Dickens writes:

The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr. Bumble rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the gentleman in the high chair, said,

‘Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir! Oliver Twist has asked for more!’

There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every countenance.

‘For MORE!’ said Mr. Limbkins. ‘Compose yourself, Bumble, and answer me distinctly. Do I understand that he asked for more, after he had eaten the supper allotted by the dietary?’

‘He did, sir,’ replied Bumble.

It is amazing how prophetic this amazing tale may have been. Today, we have hungry children and adults all over the great and powerful United States. These vulnerable and suffering citizens are offered minimal assistance by the fat and the rich, yet they are condemned if they ask for more. “Don’t we already give them enough?” or “You don’t qualify for more help” are common phrases spit from the mouth’s of the masters. We live in a country of abundance, yet so many people live with so little. Food should be a basic human right and nobody should ever go hungry.

Hunger is a major issue facing many American’s today and the issue is magnified in New Mexico. Recently New Mexico was named the second worst state in the United States for food security overall and the worst in child food security. A large portion of the population lacks in the basic necessities of nutrition on a daily basis.

Some people may argue that the government provides programs to hungry individuals, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps). The program does reach a majority of individuals who are eligible for the benefits, but there are still many individuals, including children, who do not receive the benefit because they have either not applied or are income ineligible. The benefit provided by the program is also inadequate to provide a family with 3 nutritional meals per day for an entire month.

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity refers to the USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food insecurity is not necessarily a constant and can change from time to time. Many individuals who live in a food insecure household may have to decide whether or not to pay their bills or purchase adequate food.

Feeding America recently published the Map the Meal Gap 2013, in which the organization estimated the food insecurity rates at state, country, and congressional district levels. The organization used food insecurity indicators that included: unemployment rates, median income, poverty rates, homeownership rates, percent of the population that is African American, and percent of the population that is Hispanic.2The data is combined to develop a coefficient which can then be applied to each state, county, and congressional district based on data for those specific areas.

New Mexico Overall Data

The Map the Meal Gap 2013 statistics were based on data collected in 2011. The overall average food insecurity rate for the United States was 16.4%. The results of the data place New Mexico as the second highest percentage of food insecure individuals in the country at 20.1%. The only state with a higher food insecurity rate was Mississippi at 21.4%.

The majority of individuals that are food insecure are eligible for some type of SNAP benefits, but unfortunately there are food insecure individuals that are ineligible for assistance.  In the state of New Mexico, 39% of food insecure individuals are above the Other SNAP threshold of 185% of the federal poverty level.

Even if an individual is eligible for SNAP, the program does not provide enough support to feed a family for one month. According to the data, the average cost of a meal in New Mexico is $2.48. A family of 3 that is eligible for the maximum SNAP benefit will receive $526 per month. When using the data from Map the Meal Gap 2013, a family of 3 would need approximately $669 per month to have adequate and nutritional food. Therefore, the SNAP recipient is receiving $143 less per month than they need. That shortfall amounts to 57.6 total missed meals; 19 missed meals per person in a family of 3; and a total of 6.5 days without food per family of 3.

Food Insecurity by NM County

Food insecurity is more prevalent in some counties in New Mexico than others. There is a 14.8% difference between the most insecure county and the least. The ten county’s with the highest percentage of food insecurity are: Luna 25.4%; McKinley 21.2%; Guadalupe 19.4%; Torrance 18.7%; Cibola 18.2%; Mora 18.2%; Dona Ana 18.1%; Roosevelt 18.1%; San Miguel 18.1%; and Taos 17.7%.

Food Insecurity and SNAP Participation

Overall SNAP participation in the state of New Mexico is 21.2% of the total population while the percentage of food insecurity for the state is 20.1%. There are 442,570 SNAP recipients in the New Mexico as of May 2013. The data collected in the Map the Meal Gap 2013 states that there are an estimated 417,780 food insecure individuals in New Mexico.  Therefore, there are roughly 25,000 more SNAP recipients than food insecure individuals.

 The SNAP participation rate is higher than the food insecurity rate in all but two of the top ten food insecure counties in New Mexico. The chart below identifies the data:

TOP TEN FOOD INSECURE COUNTIES

NM County Food Insecurity % 2011 SNAP Participation % May 2013
Luna

25.4

34.7

McKinley

21.2

35.8

Guadalupe

19.4

24.4

Torrance

18.7

35.7

Cibola

18.2

30.7

Mora

18.2

17.8

Dona Ana

18.1

27.7

Roosevelt

18.1

17.3

San Miguel

18.1

30.1

Taos

17.7

23.0

  • Highlighted sections indicate lower SNAP participation than food insecurity

There are six other counties that have a lower SNAP participation rate than food insecurity rate:

Los Alamos

10.6

2.7

Harding

13.6

5.2

Union

12.9

10.8

Catron

15.5

12.0

Santa Fe

14.9

13.4

Otero

17.6

14.7

The food insecurity rate in Los Alamos County is 10.6% while only 2.7% of the county receives SNAP benefits. That means that 7.9% of the food insecure individuals are not receiving food assistance through the SNAP program. Data indicates that there was an estimated 1910 food insecure individuals in Los Alamos County and 72% of them were income ineligible for SNAP. Over 1375 hungry individuals in that county alone cannot use a public benefit because they are ineligible. In Harding County, the food insecurity rate is 13.6% while the SNAP participation rate is 5.2%. Therefore, 8.4% of food insecure individuals are not receiving assistance through the SNAP program.

Between May 2012 and May 2013, The SNAP participation rate decreased in a few counties that were already underserving the food insecure population. The participation rate decreased in: Union       (-45.9%); Harding (-28.8%); Mora (20.4%); and Otero (-1.0%).

 Child Food Insecurity

New Mexico was ranked as the worst state for child food insecurity. There is an estimated 156,930 (30.6%) food insecure children in the state of New Mexico. The state that previously held the number one spot is Mississippi which currently has a 27.4% food insecurity rate for children. The National average is 22.4%.

That means that roughly 1 in 3 children in the state of New Mexico lives in a food insecure environment. What is more startling is that 22% of the food insecure children are not eligible for SNAP. Even though here are 197,054 New Mexico children receiving SNAP benefits as of May 2013, there are 34,525 children that lack access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life but are income ineligible for assistance. Therefore, there are more income ineligible hungry children than the entire city populations of Espanola, Taos, and Las Vegas combined.

Conclusion

The food insecurity rate in New Mexico is an alarmingly high percentage. The public assistance programs put into place to address the issue are inadequate and do not provide enough money for a family to eat proper, nutritious meals. Although the SNAP participation rate is greater than the food insecurity rate, there are some obvious problems in the system.

There are many counties in New Mexico that do not provide enough assistance to the food insecure population. The reasons for the lack of assistance are not clear and could involve many factors. Many hungry children are ignored in the current system. All children should be eligible for assistance regardless of their parent’s income.