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New Mexico Coalition Wins Guaranteed Income Pilot for Immigrant Families

Immigrant families are an important, and often overlooked, segment of New Mexico’s diverse population. New Mexico immigrants–both legal residents and those without documentation–are essential to the economy, contributing more than $996 million in federal, state, and local taxes that help support public schools, hospitals, roads, and more. They are vital members of New Mexico’s labor force, and they make the economy more productive and dynamic through small business creation and filling critical employee shortage areas.  

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that, while New Mexico’s immigrant families are essential to the state’s success, they are not provided sufficient opportunities to thrive, especially when it comes to access to information, resources, programs, and benefits. New Mexico Voices for Children dug into the issue and in 2020 released a revealing report: Essential But Excluded: How COVID-19 Relief Has Bypassed Immigrant Communities in New Mexico. 

Catalyzed by data from the report, New Mexico Voices for Children and partner organizations from the field created a new coalition: the New Mexico Economic Relief Working Group (ERWG).  

ERWG’s charge was to address the systemic barriers to economic relief for immigrant workers, including those from families with mixed-immigration status. The group collaborated for many months to determine what type of programs and resources would be most impactful for New Mexico immigrant families.  


In February 2022, the ERWG and UpTogether launched the New Mexico Guaranteed Income Pilot Program for Immigrant Families, an 18-month initiative to address poverty and economic security for low-income, mixed-status families and workers in New Mexico. The ERWG recruited families that were ineligible for federal COVID-19 stimulus rebates for the guaranteed income (GI) pilot. The program selected 330 mixed-immigration status households to receive $500 monthly, no strings attached, for 12 months. One-third of households came from rural communities and two-thirds from urban communities. An extension was granted to 50 randomly selected mixed-status households to receive $500 monthly for an additional six months. 

“The biggest success of this group was producing the report as well as getting state –funded relief for working families who aren’t eligible for federal relief,” said Jacob Vigil, deputy policy director at New Mexico Voices for Children.  

In December 2023, New Mexico Voices for Children released an evaluation of the GI program. The study found New Mexico families benefited greatly from the $500 monthly stipends. Participants in the guaranteed pilot program reported increases in job security, improved housing security, and improvements in the educational outcomes of their children. 

“The GI assistance helped so much with everything. It helped pay for utilities. It helped me pay for groceries. I was able to pay down some of my debt. It even helped me buy my own cell phone. I clean houses. At the beginning of the pandemic, I didn’t have a phone, so it was very difficult for me to connect with potential clients. With the help of my new phone, I’ve been able to set up more appointments and create a more stable work schedule.” 

Female participant, Doña Ana County 


And how do programs like the GI pilot affect young children? Vigil explains: “We know the brunt of the stress and adverse impacts of the pandemic and economic instability falls on children. The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences is higher in New Mexico than most other states.”  

“As a children’s advocacy organization, we believe in putting money back in the pockets of working families because we understand when families have additional support, they spend it on things their families need. There is abundant research showing the positive impact on child outcomes when families have access to more resources. We see strengthening economic security measures and policies as things that will boost and support the healthy thriving of young children.”  

Jacob Vigil, Deputy Policy Director,  New Mexico Voices for Children 


Now, New Mexico Voices for Children is hoping to grow the pilot program into an expanded state-funded program that could support more families. They also aim to secure targeted support for individuals interested in working in the childcare industry, and parents of young children who may not qualify for other resources.

Advocates across the country can learn from the ERWG’s efforts and success. Vigil offers four areas of advice for advocates to consider when they are partnering with individuals and organizations to advance a cause:  

Build diverse coalitions. Work to build trusting relationships with unlikely partners. Search out base-building and grassroots organizations that can mobilize people to tell their stories of what impact would mean for families. If you don’t have access to grassroots voices, look for mobilization organizations, especially those using a Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) lens, that have an ear to the ground of what families need. 

Cede power. Allow your partners to lead the work on the aspects where they hold more capacity, while you contribute expertise on aspects such as communications, lobbying, or research work, rather than leading on all the work yourselves. To advance your issue, you may also need to regrant funds to partners . Equitable coalition work is essential.  

Utilize collaborative, community-based research. Include information and stories from families who would be impacted by your work. Share these stories alongside statistical data and policy research to communicate about your issue.  

Don’t leave anything off the table. Think creatively and frame things differently. Be open to new and unconventional partnerships to make as many connections as you can in your state. Success comes from strong, diverse coalitions with distributed leadership.  

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