Immigrants in New Mexico

October 13, 2017

New Mexico has a sizable immigrant community, 70 percent of which hails from Mexico. Roughly 10 percent of the state’s population was born in another country, while 1 in 9 residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent. Foreign-born residents are vital members of New Mexico’s labor force, with immigrants accounting for over 37 percent of the state’s fishers, farmers, and foresters, and 18 percent of employees in the construction industry. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of New Mexico’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Nearly 1 in 10 New Mexico residents is an immigrant, while one in nine residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 196,955 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 9.4 percent of the state’s population.
  • New Mexico was home to 92,227 women, 92,273 men, and 12,455 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (70 percent of immigrants), Germany (2 percent), China (2 percent), Vietnam (1.9 percent), and Canada (1.7 percent).
  • In 2016, 225,959 people in New Mexico (11.1 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

More than a third of all immigrants in New Mexico are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 71,581 immigrants (36.3 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 47,620 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • More than three in five immigrants (63 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

The greatest shares of immigrants in New Mexico have less than a high school diploma.

  • Almost one in six adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2015, while nearly half had less than a high school diploma.

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

16.2

27.9

Some college

15.3

33.6

High school diploma only

21.3

27.6

Less than a high-school diploma

47.2

10.8

More than 50,000 U.S. citizens in New Mexico live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 85,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 37 percent of the immigrant population and 4 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 115,331 people in New Mexico, including 54,068 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 1 in 11 children in the state was a U.S. citizen living with at least one undocumented family member (44,653  children in total).

Approximately 6,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in New Mexico.

  • As of 2016, 73 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in New Mexico, or 7,410 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 2,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 3,000 would be eligible as they grew older.

One in eight workers in New Mexico is an immigrant, together making up a vital part of the state’s labor force across industries.

  • 119,556 immigrant workers comprised 12.7 percent of the labor force in 2015. 
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Accommodation and Food Services

20,000

Health Care and Social Assistance

16,038

Construction

15,515

Retail Trade

12,148

Educational Services

11,485

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • The largest shares of immigrant workers were in the following industries:

Industry

Immigrant Share (%)
(of all industry workers)

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting

25.5

Accommodation and Food Services

18.9

Construction

18.0

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

17.6

Manufacturing

16.5

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

Immigrants are an integral part of the New Mexico workforce in a range of occupations.

  • In 2015, immigrant workers were most numerous in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Food Preparation and Serving Related

18,046

Construction and Extraction

17,095

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

14,766

Sales and Related

9,983

Transportation and Material Moving

9,554

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • The largest shares of immigrant workers were in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Immigrant Share (%)
(of all workers in occupation)

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

37.4

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

28.7

Food Preparation and Serving Related

23.2

Construction and Extraction

21.4

Life, Physical, and Social Sciences

16.9

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 5.6 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in New Mexico contribute over a billion dollars in yearly taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $756.9 million in federal taxes and $394.3 million in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in New Mexico paid an estimated $67.7 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $75.8 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in New Mexico paid an estimated $18.8 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

As consumers, immigrants add billions of dollars to New Mexico’s economy.

  • New Mexico residents in immigrant-led households had $3.4 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs represent more than one in seven business owners in New Mexico.

  • 15,224 immigrant business owners accounted for 15 percent of all self-employed New Mexico residents in 2015 and generated $375.1 million in business income.

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