Below are some of the complicated social and economic problems that our community faces. We wish to work together to address them.

Immigrants help power our economy and create jobs

In 2014 it was estimated that 13% of the U.S. population was foreign-born, for a total of more than 40 million people. Many immigrants come to America seeking a better life for themselves, and their children. Many flee from poverty, violence, and oppression. 

Approximately 52% of Silicon Valley start-ups where founded by immigrants, which has increased from a quarter of a decade ago. The Economist notes that in all, a quarter of America’s science and technology start-ups, generating $52 billion and employing 450,000 people, have had somebody born abroad as their CEO or chief technology officer. In 2006, foreign nationals were named as inventors or co-inventors in a quarter of American patent applications, up from 7.6% in 1998.

And the culture of entrepreneurship remains vibrant and alive in the Hispanic and immigrant communities today.

In its 2014 report, “How Hispanic Entrepreneurs are Beating Expectations and Bolstering the U.S. Economy,” The Partnership for a New American Economy and the Latino Donor Collaborative stated that the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in America has grown exponentially over the past two decades. Hispanic immigrants in particular, are now more likely to be entrepreneurs than the average member of the U.S. population.

The report’s key findings include:

  • In recent decades, the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs has grown exponentially. From 1990-2012, the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in America more than tripled, going from 577,000 to more than 2.0 million. 
  • Hispanic immigrants, particularly those from Mexico, played a key role in this growth. Between 1990 and 2012, the number of Hispanic immigrant entrepreneurs more than quadrupled, going from 321,000 to 1.4 million. At the same time, the number of self-employed Mexican immigrants grew by a factor of 5.4, reaching 765,000. Entrepreneurship became so established among Mexican immigrants that by 2012 more than one in 10 such immigrants was an entrepreneur.
  • There are far more Hispanic entrepreneurs today than expected. In 2012 the rate of Hispanic-American entrepreneurship was more than one whole percentage point higher than we would expect based on factors like population growth, language proficiency, and family structure. Hispanic immigrants overcame obstacles that hinder entrepreneurship at even greater rates: Among that population, the entrepreneurship rate was 2.1 percentage points higher than expected, resulting in an estimated 251,000 additional entrepreneurs in 2012.
  • Hispanic immigrants now have higher entrepreneurship rates than the U.S. population overall. While 10.2 percent of the U.S. population was entrepreneurs in 2010, 11.0 percent of Hispanic immigrants were. By 2012, that gap had widened to 10.0 percent and 11.7 percent, respectively.
You can support immigrants by:
  1. Contacting your local representative and let them know that Las Cruces should be a welcoming city to all people.
  2. Getting involved in local government and nonprofit organizations and advocate for immigrant rights.
  3. Staying informed about how  national legislation on immigration policy affects our community.  For more information on the political and economic impacts of immigrants in the state of New Mexico, please click the following link: 

Stop Predatory Lending in Our Community

Predatory payday and deposit advance lending is a major area of concern for consumers across the country. Although there have been many policy advances in this area over the past decade, predatory lending promotes a vicious economic cycle that especially hurts low-income Americans especially New Mexicans. We are advocating for a discussion about how predatory lending affects the safety and economic security of some of New Mexico’s most vulnerable groups — including domestic violence survivors — and action to stop such practices.

While there is no formal legal definition of predatory lending, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, broadly defines the practice as “imposing unfair and abusive loan terms on borrowers.” These could include underwriting that does not take a borrower’s ability to repay the loan into account and large prepayment penalties. Predatory lending takes many forms, including payday loans and deposit advances – an emerging form of predatory payday loans, this time made by banks. In 2012 payday lending made up approximately $29.8 billion of storefront paydays and $14.3 billion of online lending.

Predatory lending has damaged the national economy and individual households. Even before the recession, U.S. borrowers lost $9.1 billion annually due to these practices. This harm is disproportionately concentrated, with two-thirds of borrowers taking out seven or more loans per year. The consequences of this constant borrowing are stark. Households that utilized “deposit advances” – an emerging form of payday loans – were in debt more than 40 percent of the year, far more than the FDIC maximum limit of 90 days. In addition, many payday loans are used for common household expenses. Sixty-nine percent of borrowers, for example, used loans to pay for recurring expenses. This high level of debt and nonemergency usage encourages a vicious cycle of dependency on payday lenders.

Predatory lending, especially in the form of payday loans, undermines economic security by forcing borrowers to sell necessary assets. More than 50 percent of loan recipients defaulted on their loans, placing existing bank accounts at risk. Borrowers also could have their debts sold to a collection agency or face court action. These assets are essential to household economic security. Payday lending and other forms of predatory lending are antithetical to this goal; 41 percent of borrowers require a cash infusion to pay a loan, which could force them to sell possessions or request money from friends and family. This is even more troubling because fewer than half of the recipients have savings or assets from which to draw.

Payday lending is especially harmful because it disproportionately takes place in vulnerable communities. Seventy-five percent of payday-loan borrowers had incomes that were less than $50,000 per year in 2001, and payday lenders are concentrated in low-income areas. In Texas, for example, more than 75 percent of stores are located in neighborhoods where the median household income is less than $50,000. Moreover, many recipients of payday loans are desperate; 37 percent of borrowers stated that “they have been in such a difficult financial situation that they would take a payday loan on any terms offered.”

In Southern New Mexico predatory payday, title, installment and tax anticipation loans are robbing low income and impoverished individuals and families of assets they need to survive and to build an independent financial future. In 2013 over 160,000 New Mexicans paid an average of $1,250 to repay the typical $650 loan over a period of five months. Local economies were debilitated, autos and homes were lost, families thrown into turmoil and children cast into perilously unstable circumstances.

The average 2013 New Mexico storefront loan tracked by state statistics carried an interest rate of 340%. Recognizing the danger of high cost loans, many states and the United States Military have enacted interest rate caps of 36% or less. Consumer and credit counseling agencies statewide and nationally have urged that loans be limited to maximum interest rates of 36% or less. A number of for profit and non-profit organizations have demonstrated that short term small loans can be provided at costs ranging from 10% to 36% APR. These include GECU, Turbo Title (auto title loans), Native Community Finance, the Community Loan Center, Prospero Financiero and others.

With broad-based community support, Catholic Charities along with other faith based nonprofit organizations is urging local credit unions and financial institutions to implement affordable short-term loan programs to support the financial needs of the 25% of New Mexicans who are currently at the mercy of predatory lenders. We are also urging our state and local governments to place a small portion of their treasury portfolios into investments that support the growth low cost loans to low income borrowers.

Join us in our effort to stop predatory lending in our community!

Breaking the Cycle of Violence and Domestic Abuse
The numbers are alarming and shocking…

  • On average, nearly 20 million people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner
  • On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide
  • One in four females will experience domestic violence in their lifetime
  • 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime
  • Married immigrant women experience higher levels of physical and sexual abuse than unmarried immigrant women, 59.5 percent to 49.8 percent, respectively
  • Economically, between 21% and 60% of victims lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse; the cost of domestic violence exceeds $8.3 billion per year.

Domestic violence – also called intimate partner violence – is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Further, it is said that domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, religion, or gender, and can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.

Sometimes domestic violence begins or increases during pregnancy, putting a baby’s health at risk. And the danger continues after a child is born.

Unfortunately, studies show that 3 to 4 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 are at risk of exposure to domestic violence each year. U.S. government statistics show that 95% of domestic violence cases involve women victims of male partners. The children of these women often witness the violence.

Witnessing can mean seeing actual incidents of physical/and or sexual abuse. It can mean hearing threats or fighting noises from another room. Children may also observe the aftermath of physical abuse such as blood, bruises, tears, torn clothing, and broken items.

Immigrant women are at high risk for domestic violence, but due to their immigration status they may face a more difficult time escaping abuse. Immigrant women often feel trapped in abusive relationships because of immigration laws, language barriers, social isolation, and lack of financial resources. Abusers often use their partners’ immigration status as a tool of control. In such situations, it is common for a batterer to exert control over his partner’s immigration status in order to force her to remain in the relationship.

There are domestic violence shelters throughout southern New Mexico that can help provide resources needed to escape the abuser, receive counseling services, and become more financially independent. It is also important to know that there are immigration options for those who are victims of domestic violence. These legal options, called VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) and U visa, may provide a work permit and a path to residency. VAWA is for the abused spouses of U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents. It is a confidential process without repercussions for the spouse with legal status, and a police report is not required. The U visa is an option for those who have been abused by their undocumented spouse and have made a police report. U-visas are also available to those who have been victims of other serious crimes (such as sexual assault) and have reported them. These immigration options exist so that people will not have to live in fear.

The only way to stop the cycle of violence is to take action — and the sooner the better. Start by telling someone about the abuse, whether it’s a friend, loved one, health care provider or one of Catholic Charities’ attorneys or caseworkers. At first, you might find it hard to talk about the abuse. But you’ll also likely feel relief and receive much-needed support and assistance.