First-term City Councilwoman Diane Gibson entered New Mexico politics after a 28-year career at Sandia National Laboratories, where she worked as a prototype machinist and an environmental security and health coordinator. As a recent retiree, she entered public service to address poverty and help the city thrive economically. Gibson believes she can do this, in part, by advocating for Albuquerque’s sizable immigrant and Latino populations.
“It is important to remember that this country was built on immigrants,” she says. “They work really, really hard, and they become business owners.” In fact, in Gibson’s home congressional district, immigrants are 39.3 percent more likely to start their own businesses than U.S.-born residents. Immigrants also pass an entrepreneurial spirit on to their children. “They make the kids work and teach them a strong worth ethic,” Gibson says. “They put so much into our economy so that they can create a better life for themselves.”About 11 percent of the district’s residents are immigrants, who hold $1.4 billion in spending power and pay $399.9 million in annual taxes.
Economically, there is no reason why we need to have protective immigration policies. We should be welcoming.
Gibson believes that promoting diversity is vital to a city’s social and economic success. “We no longer live on a planet where the oceans divide us that much,” she says. Recently, she visited a Muslim country for the first time. When she was there, in Turkey, she was struck by how patient people were with her questions, and by how the nation’s geography so closely resembled her home state of New Mexico. “I learned so much about common we are as people,”she says. “Economically, there is no reason why we need to have protective immigration policies. We should be welcoming. Of course we don’t want bad guys here, but we can protect ourselves while still having a healthy exchange of immigrants coming into the country. We have to remember how this country was built.”