Immigrants in New Mexico

August 6, 2020

New Mexico has a sizable immigrant community, more than 70 percent of which hails from Mexico. Almost one in ten residents was born in another country, while one in nine residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

Foreign-born residents are vital members of New Mexico’s communities and labor force, with immigrants accounting for two-fifths of the state’s fishers, farmers, and foresters, and about one-quarter of employees in the construction industry. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of New Mexico’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Nearly one in ten 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 2018, 198,522 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 9 percent of the population.
  • New Mexico was home to 92,604 women, 95,014 men, and 10,904 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (72 percent of immigrants), the Philippines (3 percent), India (2 percent), Germany (1 percent), and Cuba (1 percent).
  • In 2018, 214,918 people in New Mexico (11 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

More than two in five immigrants in New Mexico are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 81,684 immigrants (41 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 50,913 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Two-thirds (67 percent) of immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.” 

Most immigrants in New Mexico have at least a high school education.  

  • Nearly one-fifth percent (18 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while over two-fifths (42 percent) had less than a high school diploma.

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

18

29

Some college

18

34

High school diploma only

22

27

Less than a high school diploma

42

11

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2018 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.

Nearly 58,000 U.S. citizens in New Mexico live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 60,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 29 percent of the immigrant population and 3 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 115,331 people in New Mexico, including 57,959 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, about 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).

New Mexico is home to thousands of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • Approximately 5,690 active DACA recipients lived in New Mexico as of March 2020, while DACA has been granted to about 7,616 people in total since 2012.
  • As of 2019, 70 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in New Mexico had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 2,000 residents of the state would satisfy all but the educational requirements for DACA, and fewer than 1,000 would become eligible as they grew older.

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

  • 111,453 immigrant workers comprised 12 percent of the labor force in 2018.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Construction

17,946

Accommodation and Food Services

17,588

Health Care and Social Assistance

12,618

Retail Trade

10,135

Educational Services

9,929

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 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, and Hunting

28

Construction

22

Manufacturing

18

Accommodation and Food Services

17

Mining, Quarrying, and Oil & Gas Extraction

17

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 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 2018, immigrant workers were most numerous in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Construction and Extraction

17,815

Food Preparation and Serving Related

13,180

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

12,251

Sales and Related

9,819

Transportation and Material Moving

8,871

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 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

40

Construction and Extraction

24

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

23

Production

17

Food Preparation and Serving Related

17

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 4 percent of New Mexico’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in New Mexico have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

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

  • New Mexico residents in immigrant-led households had $3.2 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in New Mexico generate hundreds of millions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 18,935 immigrant business owners accounted for 17 percent of all self-employed New Mexico residents in 2018 and generated $319.5 million in business income.

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