Report details economic impact of immigrants in Santa Fe

A report released Wednesday showed how much immigrants contribute to Santa Fe’s economy both as workers and as consumers. The report New Americans in Santa Fe County included research from the American Immigration Council through a grant from the Gateways for Growth Challenge. “I’m excited about this work and the grant. And I’m also excited […]

Report details economic impact of immigrants in Santa Fe

A report released Wednesday showed how much immigrants contribute to Santa Fe’s economy both as workers and as consumers.

The report New Americans in Santa Fe County included research from the American Immigration Council through a grant from the Gateways for Growth Challenge.

“I’m excited about this work and the grant. And I’m also excited about the fact that we see an uptick in entrepreneurship. We see a fearlessness in entrepreneurship in our Hispanic immigrant community,” City of Santa Fe Community Development Director Richard Brown said at a press conference about the report Wednesday.

The report shows that in 2019, more than 16,000 immigrants lived in Santa Fe, 11.1 percent of the city’s population. These immigrants held $365.9 million in spending power, paid $78.8  million in federal taxes and $43.8 million in state and local taxes.

Even though they make up 11.1 percent of Santa Fe County’s overall population which includes the City of Santa Fe, immigrants make up 15.2 percent of the county’s employed labor force, the report states.

The report defines an immigrant as “any non-citizen or any naturalized U.S. citizen.” The report included naturalized citizens, green card holders, refugees, asylees and undocumented immigrants.

The report used data from a five-year sample of the annual demographics survey the American Community Survey between 2014 and 2019, which was deemed more accurate than the results of the 2020 census, which were considered inaccurate due to the pandemic.

The Gateways to Growth Challenge is a program managed by the American Immigration Council and Welcoming America that allows communities to apply for different levels of support through a competitive grant program, American Immigration Council Policy Manager Asma Easa said.

Gretel Barrita, a Mexican immigrant and member of immigrant worker center Somos Un Pueblo Unido gave a statement in Spanish on behalf of Somos Un Pueblo Unido that was related through a translator at the press conference.

“I have been working in the restaurant industry for 14 years. During this time I have been able to personally experience the obstacles that immigrants face today,” Barrita said. “As such I have also been a witness to the problems that afflict many immigrant workers and I have come to realize that with a little bit of flexibility on the Employer Support, we can create great change for the benefit of everyone. Santa Fe is an excellent city to live in with its people, culture and immigrant workers. Despite the obstacles that we face such as high cost of living. We continue to contribute in a positive manner within our city with the only objective of being valued.”

Other information from the report includes:

  • Immigrants represented 28.6 percent of construction workers, 27.1 percent of hospitality workers, 14.8 percent of professional services workers, 14.5 percent of general services workers and 8.7 percent of STEM workers in 2019. 
  • In 2019, immigrants in Santa Fe County were 42.9 percent more likely to be of working age between 16 and 64 years old than their U.S.-born counterparts.
  • Immigrants represented 15.2 percent of business owners in Santa Fe County in 2019. About 1,800 immigrant entrepreneurs generated $35.6 million in business income.
  • In 2019, immigrants in Santa Fe County contributed $49.7 million to Social Security and $13.2 million to Medicare.

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