New Mexico

Legal Status of official English in New Mexico

New Mexico has a non-binding “English Plus” resolution, officially endorsing multilingualism, passed by the legislature. In March 1989, at the urging of the New Mexico State Task Force on Modern and Classical Languages, the New Mexico legislature adopted House Joint Memorial 16, a nonbinding resolution “Supporting Language Rights in the United States.” It became the first state to adopt an English Plus resolution, soon followed by Oregon and Washington State.

New Mexico does not allow referenda or voter initiatives.   

36.5 percent of this state’s residents speak a language other than English as their primary language in the home. The most common of these languages are Spanish, Navajo, Keres, and Zuni.  This state has the nation’s highest proportion of speakers of Spanish, Navajo and Zuni.


New Mexico’s “English Plus” Resolution

WHEREAS the people of New Mexico promote the spirit of diversity-with-harmony represented by the various cultures that make up the fabric of our state and American society; and
WHEREAS the people of New Mexico acknowledge that “English Plus” best serves the national interest since it promotes the concept that all members of our society have full access to opportunities to effectively learn English plus develop proficiency in a second or multiple languages; and
WHEREAS the people of New Mexico recognize that the position of English in the United States needs no official legislation to support it; and
WHEREAS the people of New Mexico recognize that for survival in the twenty-first century our country needs both the preservation of the cultures and languages among us and the fostering of proficiency in other languages on the part of its citizens;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED … that the First Session of the Thirty-Ninth Legislature of the State of New Mexico hereby reaffirms its advocacy of the teaching of other languages in the United States and its belief that the position of English is not threatened. Proficiency on the part of our citizens in more than one language is to the economic and cultural benefit of our state and the nation, whether that proficiency derives from second language study by English speakers or from home language maintenance plus English acquisition by speakers of other languages. Proficiency in English plus other languages should be encouraged throughout the State.


1,072,947 English
616,964 All languages other than English combined
485,681 Spanish or Spanish Creole
68,788 Navajo
26,880 Other Native North American languages
7,871 German
4,332 French (incl. Patois, Cajun)
2,983 Chinese
2,523 Vietnamese
1,931 Italian
1,603 Tagalog
1,263 Japanese
1,197 Korean
980 Arabic
740 Persian
722 Russian
715 Greek
673 Polish
649 Scandinavian languages
639 Portuguese or Portuguese Creole
472 Gujarathi
426 Thai
404 Hindi
374 Hebrew
365 Laotian
355 Urdu
314 Serbo-Croatian
272 African languages
256 Hungarian
223 Yiddish
25 Armenian
13 French Creole
5 Mon-Khmer, Cambodian
0 Miao, Hmong