A group of over 300 undocumented and mixed-status families in thirteen different New Mexico counties will receive $500 a month starting in March.

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It’s part of a project in New Mexico that will test how well a “guaranteed basic income” works for the benefiting families. Families that participate will receive $500 per month for a full year. They’ll be asked to participate in online surveys and in-depth interviews as part of their participation.

A “universal basic income is a topic economists and sociologists have been talking about for decades.

Since at least the early 1970s there has been the acknowledgement that technology will make human workers less essential over time. Think about the number of jobs that have been eliminated already: a crop that would have taken 50 people to bring in a hundred years ago can now be harvested by a single person on a modern combine.

If anything, that one person on the combine may not be needed much longer. Add to that, self-driving cars which will eventually be ubiquitous.

That will impact anyone who drives for a living: OTR drivers, taxis, Ubers, and buses. AI is poised to make obsolete thousands of jobs previously thought safe.

Here’s the twist, though. As jobs are made obsolete, profits for corporations and wealth as measured by GDP will continue to GROW exponentially. In other words, there will be a lot more money but fewer and fewer ways to earn it.

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This goes against everything you hold sacred if you are steeped in the protestant work ethic, the idea that one has to work in order to eat. That’s been the way things have worked for at least 10 thousand years. But that whole paradigm might be about to shift.

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The UBI was the central plank of Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign in 2020. Richard Nixon, no socialist, was working on a guaranteed income plan but it never came to fruition before he was Watergated from office.

The main difference is that UBI plans were usually envisioned for a specific population, usually with nations and governments providing the basic income for their OWN CITIZENS.

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Make no mistake, the New Mexico experiment is specifically for immigrants.  Jesus Gerena, CEO of UpTogether said that what makes this program unique is that it will solely be focused on immigrant and mixed-status families.

Universal Basic Income is going to be a tough sell in the coming years. It will be an even tougher sell if the first recipients are not citizens.

This pilot program is a project of the New Mexico Economic Relief Working Group with a $2 million grant from the UpTogether organization out of California.

The participating families will be chosen by randomized lottery. About 2,000 families have applied but the deadline has been extended to February 11.

The organizers say they need more representation from Dona Ana County residents.

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