Immigrants in Delaware

October 13, 2017

Delaware has a sizable immigrant community, much of which hails from Mexico. Roughly 9 percent of the state’s population was born in another country, while 7 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent. Delaware benefits from the various ways immigrants participate in the economy and labor force, with foreign-born residents accounting for a fifth of the state’s architecture and engineering employees and 18 percent of residents working in Delaware’s insurance and finance industry. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Delaware’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Nearly 1 in 10 Delaware residents is an immigrant, while 7 percent are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 87,509 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 9.3 percent of the state’s population.
  • Delaware was home to 42,510 women, 39,505 men, and 5,494 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (18.2 percent of immigrants), India (14.9 percent), Guatemala (7.3 percent), China (4.5 percent), and the Philippines (4.3 percent).
  • In 2016, 62,739 people in Delaware (6.6 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

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

  • 39,523 immigrants (45.2 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 16,777 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • More than four in five immigrants (81.1 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

The greatest shares of immigrants in Delaware possess a college degree or more.

  • Nearly two in five adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2015, while more than one in five had less than a high school diploma. 

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

38.0

30.0

Some college

18.3

29.4

High school diploma only

20.9

31.0

Less than a high-school diploma

22.9

9.5

Nearly 15,000 U.S. citizens in Delaware live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 25,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 31 percent of the immigrant population and 2.7 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 29,691 people in Delaware, including 12,939 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 6 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (11,875 children in total).

More than 1,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Delaware.

  • In 2016, 64 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Delaware, or 1,603 people, had applied for DACA.
  • Up to 1,000 additional residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and up to 1,000 others would be additionally eligible as they grew older.

Immigrants are vital to Delaware’s labor force across industries, accounting for more than one in nine workers in the state.

  • 56,773 immigrant workers comprised 11.9 percent of the labor force in 2015. 
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Health Care and Social Assistance

8,429

Accommodation and Food Services

7,977

Finance and Insurance

7,419

Manufacturing

7,363

Educational Services

5,897

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 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 & Hunting

19.5

Manufacturing

18.3

Finance and Insurance

17.9

Accommodation and Food Services

16.4

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

13.3

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

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

  • In 2015, immigrant workers were most numerous in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Management

6,099

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

5,578

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

5,254

Food Preparation and Serving Related

5,109

Office and Administrative Support

5,072

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 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

35.8

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

27.9

Life, Physical, and Social Sciences

25.8

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

21.6

Architecture and Engineering

21.1

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 4 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in Delaware contribute over half a billion dollars in yearly taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $552.2 million in federal taxes and $154.6 million in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Delaware paid an estimated $13.5 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $19.7 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Delaware paid an estimated $2.4 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

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

  • Delaware residents in immigrant-led households had $2.3 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs represent more than one in nine Delaware business owners.

  • 4,442 immigrant business owners accounted for 11.1 percent of all self-employed Delaware residents in 2015 and generated $161.5 million in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 13.1 percent of business owners in the Philadelphia/Camden/Wilmington metropolitan area (which spans Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey).

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