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State Data

Higher education in the U.S. benefits from the participation of immigrant and international students. First and second-generation individuals comprise 28% of all students enrolled in higher education, a growing figure that underscores the importance of immigrant-origin students in the classroom and our workforce.

All Students in Higher Education in New Mexico123,000
First-Generation Immigrant Students6,000
Second-Generation Immigrant Students14,000
International Students2,837

Note: First-generation immigrants were born abroad and immigrated to the U.S. Second-generation immigrants are U.S.-born individuals with at least one immigrant parent. First-generation immigrants include undocumented immigrants. First-generation immigrants do not include international students on a visa.

International students comprise only 5.5 percent of all students in higher education, but provide significant economic, academic and cultural contributions that enrich learning, enrollment and funding opportunities for American students.

International Students in Higher Education2,837
Economic Contributions of International Students in the State$76.8 million
Jobs Supported by International Students in the State695
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Participants331

Note: Optional Practical Training participants are a subgroup of international students.

Immigrant residents, including undocumented immigrants and DACA-eligible residents, play an important role in the state's economy, contributing spending power and paying federal, state, and local taxes.

All Immigrant Residents in New Mexico197,371
Immigrant Share of Total Population9.4%
Undocumented Immigrants in State44,909
DACA-Eligible Residents in State8,341
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

Note: DACA-eligible residents are a sub-group of undocumented immigrant residents.

Higher education helps prepare all students, including immigrant and international students, to fill critical career and skills needs.

State Immigrant Workers Fill Critical Skills Needs
Share of STEM Workers Who Are First-Generation Immigrants10%
Share of Nurses Who Are First-Generation Immigrants7.2%
Share of Health Aides Who Are First-Generation Immigrants12.4%
First-Generation Immigrant Faculty and Staff in Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools4,846

Note: First-generation immigrants were born abroad and immigrated to the U.S.

You can find additional state data, including by congressional district, in the following resources by immigrant population (NAE) and international students (NAFSA).

State Policies

Evaluating Access for Undocumented Students

State policies in four key areas – in state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure, and driver licenses – play an important role in expanding access to higher education and workforce development for undocumented students.

  • In-State Tuition & State Financial Aid Access and Affordability

    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 & 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.

  • Driver 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.

Enacted Policies

New Mexico provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licensure in at least most professions, and driver licenses.


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:

  1. Have attended a New Mexico middle school or high school for at least one year; and,
  2. 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.

Professional & Occupational Licensure

New Mexico allows individuals to obtain professional and occupational licensure in at least most occupations regardless of their immigration status. 

New Mexico Senate Bill (S.B.) 137, passed on February 18, 2020, establishes that a person is eligible for occupational or professional licensure for which that person is qualified, regardless of the person’s citizenship or immigration status. The bill applies to professions or occupations that do not statutorily require a specific type of immigration status, including teachers, dental hygienists, doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists.

New Mexico Senate Bill (S.B.) 219, signed into law on April 6, 2021, removes immigration status requirements for a number of professional and occupational licenses not included in previous legislation. S.B. 219 removes statutory immigration status requirements to professional licenses, opening up positions like optometrists, physical therapists, real estate agents, and home inspectors to individuals regardless of immigration status. Applicants without a Social Security Number (SSN) can provide an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) when seeking a professional license.

Driver Licenses

Undocumented immigrants living in New Mexico are eligible to obtain a driver license. House Bill (H.B.) 99, as amended by Senate Bill (S.B.) 278 on April 2, 2019, allows the state’s undocumented residents to access a standard driver license as an alternative to a Real ID driver license. Applicants must provide proof of identity, age, and state residence to access the driver license.

DACA recipients in New Mexico are allowed to obtain a driver license or state identification card.

Effective Practices and State Resources

Spotlight on effective practices and policy, research, or community-based state resources.

  • Effective Practice

    Promising Practices: Alamo Colleges District (Education Training Centers)

    Programs offering college enrollment assistance, career exploration, and GED and English as a second language classes.

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  • Effective Practice

    Higher Ed Guide to Tuition, Financial Aid, & Other Funding Opportunities for Undocumented Students

    An overview of in-state tuition, state aid, and other funding opportunities for undocumented students.

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