Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico Creative Commons

A basic income program implemented in New Mexico helped immigrant households access improved employment and education, Business Insider reported.

Concretely, the program provided 330 households with $500 a month for a full year, with recipients claiming to have used the money "to pay rent, afford groceries, pay off debt, and support their families." An additional 50 households were randomly selected to receive the payments for an extra six months.

The New Mexico Economic Relief Working Group, a coalition of community organizations and nonprofits, carried out the program with funding from private donors and philanthropic sources.

The plan is part of over 100 basic income pilots across the U.S., which offer no-strings-attached cash payments to low-income families. However, what made New Mexico's plan stand out is that it provided assistance to immigrants who had largely been left out as the program was mainly restricted to U.S. citizens.

Unlike traditional social services, these programs allow families to decide how to spend the money.

The program served mixed-status households in 13 counties, benefiting both rural and urban areas. Most participants were families with children, and the program addressed significant issues such as housing insecurity and lack of health insurance, recipients said. Educational outcomes for the children of participants also improved, with more children learning at their grade level and on track to graduate.

The success of the program has spurred momentum for future basic income programs in the region. In February, the New Mexico House passed a bill for a new state-funded pilot cash program aimed at people enrolled in workforce training programs. The $1 million project, pending approval in the state Senate, would provide participants with funds to cover housing, food, and transportation for three years.

Basic income plans are not without detractors. Many of these programs are being challenged across the US by Republican lawmakers, who've called them "socialist", claiming that payments could make participants too reliant on government assistance.

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