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The Top 10 Things You Should Know About New Mexico’s Demographic Changes and Immigration Politics

A Look at the State’s Emerging Communities of Color Before the Republican Primary

SOURCE: AP/Susan Montoya Bryan

New Mexico elected Susan Martinez (R) in 2010 as its first Latina governor (and the first Latina governor in the country). Notably, Martinez won only 38 percent of the Latino vote, while challenger Diane Denish (D) won 61 percent.

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In advance of New Mexico’s Republican primary tomorrow, here are 10 important facts about immigrants and people of color in the state that display their significant economic, cultural, and electoral power.

1. Communities of color are driving population growth in New Mexico. The Latino share of New Mexico’s population grew from just over 38 percent in 1990 to 46.3 percent in 2010, while the Asian* share of the state’s population grew from 0.9 percent to 1.4 percent, and the African American population grew from 2.0 percent to 2.1 percent. Communities of color accounted for approximately 9.2 percent of the state’s growth over the same time.

2. New Mexico has one of the largest racial generational gaps in the United States. In 2010 white children under the age of 18 accounted for just 26 percent of the overall child population, while white adults comprised 60 percent. New Mexico currently has the fourth-largest racial generation gap in the United States, right behind Arizona, Nevada, and California.

3. More than a third of New Mexico’s immigrants are naturalized—meaning that they are eligible to vote. In 2010, 34 percent of the state’s immigrants were naturalized U.S. citizens. In 2008, almost 9 percent of registered voters in New Mexico were either naturalized citizens or U.S.-born children of immigrants.

4. People of color will be key to the upcoming presidential election in November. New Mexico experienced a 4.2 point increase in its communities of color population share over the past decade. This year, the state is projected to have around 52 percent voters of color. Hispanic voters in the state heavily favored then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, when he received 69 percent of their votes, while communities of color overall voted 71 percent for Obama.

5. New Mexico elected Susan Martinez (R) in 2010 as its first Latina governor (and the first Latina governor in the country). Martinez notably won only 38 percent of the Latino vote, while challenger Diane Denish (D) won 61 percent.

6. New Mexico offers in-state tuition rates to all its eligible residents regardless of their immigration status. New Mexico is one of 12 states that allow undocumented students to pay the same tuition at public colleges and universities as other students.

7. As consumers, communities of color add billions to the state’s economy. Latino purchasing power in New Mexico increased by 305 percent from 2000 to 2010 to a total of $20 billion, while Asian buying power in the state has grown 607 percent in the same period to a total of $1.3 billion.

8. As entrepreneurs, Latinos in New Mexico contribute significantly to the state’s economy. More than a quarter of businesses in New Mexico—32.3 percent—are owned by Latinos.

9. Immigrant workers are essential to New Mexico’s economy. In 2010 immigrant workers in New Mexico comprised 12.2 percent of the state’s workforce. According to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center, the 50,000 undocumented immigrants comprised roughly 5.6 percent of the state’s workforce in 2010.

10. Immigrants support New Mexico’s state and local governments by paying taxes. In 2010 undocumented immigrants in the state paid a total of $101.5 million in state and local taxes, including $84.2 million in sales taxes and $8.6 million in state income taxes.

Vanessa Cárdenas is Director of Progress 2050 and Angela Maria Kelley is Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress.

*We use the term Asian when referring to racial identification, such as Census Bureau data that distinguishes between race and ethnicity and collects information on all United States residents regardless of their nationality. We use the term Asian American when referring to community groups that self-identify as such to describe their national identity.

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