Created: 05/16/2014 11:03 AM
By: The Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - A federal judge in Albuquerque is ordering New Mexico state officials to immediately process a backlog of thousands of applications by poor people seeking benefits such as food aid.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Gonzales issued the order Thursday as he scolded the Human Services Department as failing for meet its obligations to provide services in a timely manner.
The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty had accused the department of delaying applications and incorrectly denying or ending families' benefits in violation of a 1998 consent decree between the state and federal governments.
Human Services attorneys had asked Gonzales to wait three months before ruling on the issue.
However, the judge said the poor can't wait and he ordered the department to immediately make sweeping changes in its processes.
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