February 11, 2021

CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children, 505-361-1288 (direct)
OR: Marie-Pier Frigon, Communications Associate, 505-361-1288 (direct)

More Likely to be Entrepreneurial, Immigrants Employ some 27,000 New Mexicans

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Immigrants in New Mexico pay more than $1 billion in federal, state and local taxes, and contribute billions more in economic activity. Those are two of the conclusions in a report from New Mexico Voices for Children, “Strengthening all Communities for a Brighter Future.” The report is being released today in conjunction with partner organizations to coincide with the legislative Immigrant and Workers Day of Action – a virtual rally (live on Facebook) this evening from 6-7pm. The event will include a presentation on this report by one of the authors.  

Aside from paying taxes, immigrants in New Mexico have $3.2 billion in purchasing power and immigrant-owned businesses have annual sales of $4.4 billion. Those are among the economic contributions immigrant residents make that support other local businesses and jobs.

“Immigrants are actually twice as likely to start a company as are folks who were born here,” said James Jimenez, executive director of NM Voices. “These companies create jobs and economic activity that we would otherwise not have.”

In 2018, New Mexico was home to more than 15,000 immigrant-owned businesses that employed an estimated 27,000 workers. Immigrants also fill critical shortages in the labor market – filling jobs that our nation’s aging and more educated workforce cannot do – many of them working in frontline industries during the pandemic such as in hospitals, nursing homes, child care, food service, and other high-contact jobs that cannot be done remotely. Still, many of New Mexico’s immigrants were left out of the 2020 federal COVID-19 relief.

Some 68,000 adults and children were denied $55 million in federal pandemic relief. Not only did those families lose out, but so did the communities where that money would have been spent on necessities like groceries, utilities, gasoline, and more.

“We are proud of the economic, cultural, and civic contributions, highlighted in this report, that low-wage immigrant workers make in New Mexico,” said Marian Mendez Cera, workers’ justice organizer with El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated already-existing racial and economic inequities in New Mexico. We must now take immediate steps to ensure that everything from wages, to workers’ protections, economic relief, and tax rebates are commensurate with our communities’ contributions so that all New Mexicans can thrive.”

“Our country and our state owe a debt of gratitude and bear a moral obligation toward workers, now deemed essential but for far too long treated as expendable within our economy,” said Allex Luna, lead organizer with NM CAFé.

“Local and state governments can and should act to create economic policies that are inclusive of all essential workers and families, including immigrants,” said Marcela Díaz, executive director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. “Our public health and economic recovery in New Mexico depend on it.”

The report is available online at

For more information on the Immigrant Day of Action, visit


New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities. 625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p);