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New Mexico State Immigration Laws

Welcome to FindLaw's coverage of immigration laws in New Mexico. Below, you will find information on what rules New Mexico has on immigration checks by law enforcement.

The federal government has the greatest powers in managing immigration laws. But local governments and jurisdictions have powers, too. The legislatures of each state have some freedom to decide their own unique immigration policies. But they still have to remain within the parameters set by the federal government.

Remember, immigration enforcement is a combined effort by state and federal authorities. While this has been a controversial proposition, it remains a part of immigration enforcement. If you or someone you love is facing deportation action, be sure to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.

As a more conservative state, unlike Illinois, New York, Connecticut, or New Jersey, New Mexico has a history of being less welcoming to migrants, nonimmigrants, or noncitizens. It's important to know your civil rights.

Law Enforcement and Immigration in New Mexico

If an arrestee is unable to prove legal residence, state police officers must report them to federal immigration authorities. As part of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ACCESS Program, officers in the New Mexico Department of Corrections cooperate directly with federal authorities in the enforcement of immigration law.

Police put convicts' names into a federal database. This database checks immigration status. This federal program is the “Criminal Apprehension Program." The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have access to this information. This information is also available to ICE. It's important that immigrants without proper documentation be aware of how police collect and share information.

Employment Checks

Refer to federal employment eligibility verification rules and the requirements for Form I-9.

New Mexico E-Verify Requirements

New Mexico has no state requirement to use E-Verify to check employees' immigration status.

Driver's License/ID Requirements

Immigrants living here illegally are not eligible for a state driver's license. Residents can apply for a driver's authorization card. Foreign nationals with legal status must make an appointment (no walk-ins) to apply for a driver's license or state ID.

Public Benefits Restrictions

Under federal law, illegal immigrants can't get most public benefits. But, they can get emergency services, health care, and other programs that are "necessary to protect life and safety."

Education Checks

New Mexico does offer in-state tuition to qualifying students living here illegally. This applies to DACA recipients. Here's a breakdown of this program:

  • It stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals."
  • DACA protects eligible young adults from deportation after their parents brought them to the United States as children.
  • It also gives these young adults work authorization for limited periods. Those periods of work authorization are renewable.

U visa holders can't get in-state tuition benefits. Here's a breakdown of this visa, as well:

  • U-Visas provide work authorization in the same way that a green card does.
  • It is available to family members of domestic violence victims.
  • Victims of many crimes, not just domestic violence, are also eligible for this type of visa.
  • It can help asylum seekers who have faced persecution in their country of origin, as well.

Voting ID Rules

There is no state-mandated voter ID requirement. To vote in New Mexico, you must be:

  • A resident of New Mexico
  • A citizen of the United States
  • Not legally declared mentally incapacitated
  • Not a convicted felon or a felon who has completed all the terms and conditions of sentencing
  • 18 or older at the time of the next election

Housing Ordinances and Immigration

New Mexico has no special ordinances about housing.

New Mexico Immigration Laws: Related Resources

Here are some organizations to help you navigate immigration law in New Mexico:

  • Know Your Rights — A guide to protecting yourself and your family during immigration raids (PDF, CASA of Maryland, and other organizations).
  • New Mexico Legal Aid — This nonprofit organization offers free or low-cost advocacy and legal services to low-income people, including immigrants and migrants. Attorneys at Legal Aid New Mexico can help you navigate the difficulties of the U.S. immigration system.
  • National Immigration Law Center — Another of the nonprofit organizations in the state, this group also offers legal services to immigrants and migrants. This group also runs many initiatives to make other resources available.
  • American Civil Liberties Union — The ACLU works to protect the civil rights and civil liberties of all, including immigrants.

Want to Learn More About Your Rights? Call a Local Immigration Attorney

No matter where you live in New Mexico, immigration laws are the same throughout the state. Stay informed about any new or revised laws, particularly when you are applying for citizenship or a green card. If you have more questions after reading this article or need immediate relief, find a local immigration attorney today.

Immigration is a stressful process. Whatever your particular circumstances, immigration attorneys can help. You might be in the naturalization process and trying to become a U.S. citizen. You might be pursuing a green card and trying to become a lawful permanent resident. Perhaps you're struggling to draft an affidavit correctly in your application for a U visa. Perhaps you're scheduled to appear before an immigration court, and you're not sure how to prepare. You might just need help with your regular dealings with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Or you're appearing before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Immigrants' rights are always important. Immigration matters are difficult to handle on your own. If you can't afford an attorney, contact Legal Aid New Mexico. It's also important to know that many attorneys work pro bono. Working pro bono means an attorney provides legal services for free.

If you need referrals for attorneys, contact the New Mexico State Bar Association. It can offer referrals for free. It's important to get the legal representation you need. Whether you're in Albuquerque or another part of the state, it's important to get legal assistance to protect your civil rights. In the state of New Mexico, legal resources are even widely available in Spanish.

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