From bustling Miami to sleepy Goffstown, New Hampshire, from San Diego to Minneapolis, recipients of New Mexico's welfare funds use their state-issued EBT cards every day to spend money far from the Land of Enchantment. In a two month period examined by New Mexico Watchdog expenditures of the state's welfare funds occurred in 45 states.
The evidence suggests recipients of New Mexico welfare funds leave the state in significant numbers after qualifying for and receiving an electronic banking card that allows them to withdraw cash from ATMs or make purchases directly. The funds are distributed under the Federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Most of the funds are given to the state in a federal block grant, with state funds making up the difference.
Nearly 196,000 EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards issued by the New Mexico Human Services Department are active each month. Substantial numbers of EBT transactions occur in and around El Paso, TX. That is to be expected considering the close interrelationship of that city with southern New Mexico communities. What New Mexico Watchdog found surprising was the high volume of substantial cash transactions occurring regularly far from New Mexico's borders on a daily basis.