New Mexico is made up of 2 million inhabitants. Out of all the U.S states, New Mexico has the largest Hispanic population, with 49.03 percent of the population identifying solely as Hispanic or Latino according to the United States Census Bureau.
The majority of Latin American immigrants in New Mexico are from Mexico, making up 72 percent of the immigrant population. Among other countries of origin where immigrants have come from, New Mexico has seen 3 percent arrive from the Philippines over the years, around 2 percent from India, and 1 percent from both Germany and Cuba respectively.
When it concerns undocumented immigrants, roughly 60,000 individuals and 29 percent of the immigrant population fall under this category. The American Immigrant Council adds that around 58,000 U.S citizens in New Mexico were living with at least 1 undocumented family member. Nearly 45,000 children were also living with an undocumented family member as well.
A significant portion of the workforce in New Mexico is made up of immigrants, with nearly 1 out of every 8 workers being born outside of the U.S. Some of the major sectors of labor include construction, accommodation and food services, and healthcare and social assistance.
Regarding the largest shares of immigrant workers, the American Immigration Council points out that immigrants make up a significant portion of the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting industries.
New Mexico has a number of organizations dedicated to serving its immigrant population. One of those is El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos, which when translated into English means, “The Center of Equality and Rights.”
They fight for immigrant workers and for their rights, and have worked on campaigns to lower deportations, to raise the minimum wage, recover stolen wages, and address the current immigration system.
A critical area of concern facing Latino/Hispanic adults in New Mexico is the level of health disparities when it comes to accessibility and treatment. A study submitted to the Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, it was shared that out of New Mexico’s 33 counties, 32 are Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) in terms of mental health, dental, and primary care.
In addition, it has been noted that when it comes to medical care, around 22 percent of Latinos in New Mexico are without health insurance, and that insurance legislation that has language that restricts access to immigrants has led to many not seeking healthcare, even when necessary. In this study, many of the Latino participants mentioned how their socioeconomic status also played a role in how they were treated, as many were from lower income backgrounds and had varying insurance plans.
New Mexico in Higher Education
International Students: 2,837
First and Second Generation Immigrant Students: 20,000
In-State tuition and State Financial Aid Access for Undocumented Students: Comprehensive Access.
All Students in Higher Education in New Mexico: 123,000
First Generation Immigrant Students: 6,000
Second Generation Immigrant Students: 14,000
International Students: 2,837
International Students in Higher Education: 2,837
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State: $76.8 million
Jobs supported by International Students in the State: 695
DACA & New Mexico’s Economy
All Immigrant Residents in New Mexico: 197,371
Immigrant Share of Total Population : 9.4 %
Undocumented Immigrants in the State: 44,909
DACA-Eligible Residents in the State: 8,341
Spending Power of DACA-Eligible Residents: $133.4 million
DACA-Eligible Residents Federal Tax Contributions: $22.1 million
DACA-Eligible Residents State and Local Tax Contributions: $17.5 million
Evaluating Access for Undocumented Students:
In-State Tuition & State Financial Aid: Comprehensive Access. Policies provide statewide access to in-state tuition and some state financial aid or scholarships for the state’s resident DACA recipients and undocumented students.
Professional & Occupational Licensure
Workforce Entry and Eligibility: Accessible. Policies allow undocumented individuals to obtain occupational licensure in one or more professions regardless of their immigration status provided that they meet all other requirements.
Drivers Licenses & Identification: Mobility Accessible. Policies provide the state’s undocumented residents with access to driver licenses and/or state identification regardless of their immigration status, but these are not REAL ID compliant.
State Immigrant Workers & Critical Skills Needs
STEM workers who are First-Generation Immigrants: 10%
Share of Nurses who are First-Generation Immigrants: 7.2%
Share of Health Aids who are First-Generation Immigrants: 12.4%
First Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools: 4,846
In State Tuition
New Mexico Senate Bill (S.B.) 582, signed into law on April 8, 2005, provides eligible undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition. Students must meet certain requirements to access in-state tuition, including:
- Have attended a New Mexico middle school or high school for at least one year; and,
- Have either graduated from a New Mexico high school or received their GED in New Mexico.
State Financial Aid
New Mexico Senate Bill (S.B.) 582 provides eligible undocumented students, including DACA recipients, with access to state financial aid. The bill extends access to state financial aid to all residents of New Mexico on the same terms and regardless of immigration status, provided they meet the criteria for in-state tuition.
New Mexico Legislature, 2021 Signed Legislation
Below are a few samples of New Mexico’s 2021 signed legislation. For the comprehensive list visit the Office of the Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham.
House Bill 112 Health Benefits for Certain Non-Citizens
Requires hospitals providing indigent care (county hospitals and those hospitals contracting with a county) to treat all non-citizens equally regardless of immigration status. It provides a new section of law (Section 1 of this bill) prohibiting discrimination based on immigration status “consistent with the prohibitions against discrimination set forth pursuant to New Mexico law.”
SB 40: K-5 Plus and Extended Learning at Schools
In spite of the Covid-19 public health emergency, plaintiffs in the consolidated education sufficiency cases of Martinez v. New Mexico and Yazzie v. New Mexico continue to argue the state has a constitutional obligation to provide a uniform and sufficient education for all students; instructional materials, properly trained staff, curricular offerings, and extended learning time, necessary to give at-risk students the opportunity to be college and career ready.
House Bill 52: Bilingual Multicultural Ed Advisory Council
The Bilingual Multicultural Education Act, HB52/aHEC’s advisory council, consists of members who have technical knowledge of and expertise in bilingual multicultural education and teaching English to English learners.
New Mexico is one of the only states in the United States that includes a provision in the state constitution to ensure teachers are trained in both English and Spanish instruction so they can teach Spanish-speaking pupils.
Latinx Heritage in New Mexico
When Mexico achieved its independence from Spain in 1821, New Mexico became a province of Mexico, and trade was opened with the United States. In the next year, American settlers began arriving in New Mexico via the Santa Fe Trail. In 1846, the Mexican-American War erupted, and U.S. General Stephen W. Kearny captured and occupied Santa Fe. Two years later, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded New Mexico to the United States, and in 1853 the territory was expanded to its present size through the Gadsden Purchase.
The Treaty explicitly recognized the personal and property rights of New Mexicans and Pueblo Indians brought under U.S. sovereignty.
“Whether the U.S. carried out the provisions of the treaty with regard to community land grants has been a controversial issue as many land grant heirs, scholars and legal experts believe the U.S. did not protect the common lands of community land grants. The treaty was incorporated into New Mexico’s State Constitution in 1912 and is part of the state’s legal and cultural heritage,” The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Division.
The history, architecture and art of New Mexico have strong roots in Mexican and Spanish history and culture and continues to be influenced by immigrants from Latin America. Latinx and Hispanic culture and customs have a major presence everywhere in Albuquerque city, from street names to adobe architecture to visual arts, dance and music.
Asian Americans in New Mexico
The arrival of the railroad in New Mexico brought immigrants to Albuquerque in large numbers starting in the late 1800s. After the fall of South Vietnam in 1975 a federal resettlement program brought thousands of Vietnamese to the United States, including about 3,000 to New Mexico. The number of immigrants from all over Asia has increased markedly since the 1960s and 1970s, including those from Korea and the Philippines. Filipinos are among the fastest growing ethnic group in New Mexico.
The 19th and early 20th centuries presented challenges for Albuquerque’s small but growing Asian population as racial discrimination was tolerated and impacted economic opportunities for Asian residents. To cope with discrimination, many immigrant communities launched businesses catering to their own communities.
“In one of the ugliest chapters of racial discrimination in America, the internment of citizens of Japanese descent, New Mexico was somewhat of a bright spot. The question of internment was left up to New Mexico’s local communities to decide, and most chose not to bother voting on the issue. Only one city in south eastern New Mexico did vote to intern its Japanese American citizens. In Albuquerque, internment was opposed by local Hispanic groups and the issue never even went to a vote,” visitalbuquerque.org.
Today, the Asian population is integrated into all aspects of life in Albuquerque, from food to art to music.
Nohely Diaz is a graduate from California State University, Sacramento. During her education there, she majored in Government with a concentration in International Relations and doubled minored in Criminal Justice and Peace and Conflict Resolution. She is committed to bringing awareness to topics relating to human security and human rights. Her dedication to public service has allowed her to engage in several advocacy campaigns regarding human trafficking, labor exploitation, and Indigenous rights. In addition, she has served her community through census work. Nohely is now looking to continue pursuing justice and equity for others by starting Graduate school.