Immigrants in Arizona

August 6, 2020

Arizona has a growing population of immigrants.  About 13 percent of the state’s residents were born in another country, and 16 percent of residents are native-born Americans with at least one immigrant parent. One in six Arizona workers is an immigrant, and state industries like agriculture and construction depend on an even greater share of immigrants. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Arizona’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

One in eight Arizona residents is an immigrant, while one in six is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2018, 960,275 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 13 percent of the population.
  • Arizona was home to 477,284 women, 437,218 men, and 45,773 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (55 percent of immigrants), Canada (4 percent), India (4 percent), the Philippines (4 percent), and China (2 percent).
  • In 2018, 1.1 million people in Arizona (16 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Nearly half of all immigrants in Arizona are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 431,667 immigrants (45 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 219,447 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Arizona are distributed across the educational spectrum.

  • Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while a third (33 percent) had less than a high school diploma. 

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

23

31

Some college

21

36

High school diploma only

23

24

Less than a high school diploma

33

8

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2018 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.

Over a quarter-million U.S. citizens in Arizona live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 275,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 28 percent of the immigrant population and 4 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 466,047 people in Arizona, including 255,489 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, about one in nine children in the state was a U.S. citizen living with at least one undocumented family member (192,896 children in total).

Arizona is home to nearly 24,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • Approximately 23,990 active DACA recipients lived in Arizona as of March 2020, while DACA has been granted to 30,358 people in total since 2012.
  • As of 2019, 70 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Arizona had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 10,000 residents of the state would satisfy all but the educational requirements for DACA, and fewer than a thousand would become eligible as they grew older.

One in six workers in Arizona is an immigrant, together making up an integral part of the state’s labor force in a range of industries.

  • 576,640 immigrant workers comprised 17 percent of the labor force in 2018 
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Health Care and Social Assistance

72,994

Accommodation and Food Services

72,459

Construction

72,261

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

65,758

Retail Trade

63,867

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • The largest shares of immigrant workers were in the following industries:

Industry

Immigrant Share (%)
(of all industry workers)

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting

40

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

27

Construction

27

Manufacturing

21

Other Services (except Public Administration)

20

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

Immigrants are an integral part of the Arizona workforce in a range of occupations.

  • In 2018, immigrant workers were most numerous in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

80,112

Construction and Extraction

62,815

Food Preparation and Serving Related

56,618

Transportation and Material Moving

55,531

Office and Administrative Support

52,926

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • The largest shares of immigrant workers were in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Immigrant Share (%)
(of all workers in occupation)

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

52

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

39

Construction and Extraction

30

Production

23

Healthcare Support

21

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 6 percent of Arizona’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in Arizona have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

As consumers, immigrants add tens of billions of dollars to Arizona’s economy.

  • Arizona residents in immigrant-led households had $21.1 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Arizona generate more than a billion dollars in business revenue.

  • 81,212 immigrant business owners accounted for 22 percent of all self-employed Arizona residents in 2018 and generated $1.6 billion in business income.
  • In the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metropolitan area in 2018, nearly one-third of business owners (31 percent) were immigrants.

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