As one the last American frontier territories to be settled, New Mexico offered opportunities for better lives to a wide variety of immigrants from throughout the world during the nineteenth century. After becoming a state in 1912, New Mexico developed into an area in which immigrants have been able to integrate into the community while still preserving their cultural heritages.
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, immigrants from both Asia and Europe joined large numbers of immigrants from Mexico to New Mexico. New Mexico shares a long border with Mexico, which it had been part of until the United States won the Mexican War in 1848. The most numerous European groups were
The first German immigrants in New Mexico were
Italian immigrants began arriving in Albuquerque at the same time as the railroad. These immigrants found success in all types of business ventures and particularly in construction trades. During the twentieth century, a small number of
New Mexico’s Asian communities are mostly concentrated in Albuquerque. The first Asians to arrive were Chinese and Japanese laborers who came during the late nineteenth century. Many of them worked on the railroads. Not fully accepted into the life of the city, they established their own communities and built businesses that served their own people. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, Albuquerque’s Asian community was augmented by the arrival of about 3,000
Around the turn of the twenty-first century, New Mexico’s Asian population became even more diversified as
Despite the important contributions of European and Asian immigrants, the strongest cultural influences in New Mexico are Mexican. The state’s large Mexican American community includes families who trace their ancestry back to the time when New Mexico was part of Mexico and even earlier, when the region was ruled by Spain. Other families trace their roots to nineteenth and early twentieth century Mexican immigrants, but a substantial part of the state’s early twenty-first century population was made up of both documented and undocumented immigrants who were born in Mexico.
Citola, Nicholas P. Italians in Albuquerque. Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2002. Gutiérrez, David G. Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. Rodriguez, Havidán, Rogelio Sáenz, and Cecilia Menjivar. Latinas/os in the United States: Changing the Face of America. New York: Springer, 2008. Zolberg, Aristide. A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006.