Immigrants in Delaware

July 6, 2020

Delaware has a sizable community of immigrants, many of whom hail from Mexico. Nine percent of Delawareans were born in another country, while another 9 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 quarter of the state’s workers in computer and math occupations and nearly a quarter of residents working in life, physical, and social science occupations. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Delaware’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

One in 11 Delaware residents is an immigrant, while another 1 in 11 residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2018, 91,230 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 9 percent of the population.
  • Delaware was home to 43,896 women, 40,310 men, and 7,024 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (15 percent of immigrants), India (11 percent), Guatemala (10 percent), China (8 percent), and Jamaica (4 percent).
  • In 2018, 86,316 people in Delaware (9 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.

  • 42,707 immigrants (47 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 14,260 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • More than four in five (83 percent) immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Delaware are distributed across the educational spectrum.

  • Almost one-third (32 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while more than one-fourth (27 percent) had less than a high school diploma.

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

32

31

Some college

14

27

High school diploma only

26

34

Less than a high school diploma

27

8

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

Thousands of U.S. citizens in Delaware live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 30,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 31 percent of the immigrant population and 3 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 29,691 people in Delaware, including 14,851 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, about 6 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (11,875 children in total).

Delaware is home to over a thousand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • 1,310 active DACA recipients lived in Delaware as of 2019, while DACA has been granted to 4,824 people in total since 2012.
  • As of 2019, 50 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Delaware had applied for DACA.
  • Fewer than 1,000 residents of the state would satisfy all but the educational requirements for DACA, and fewer than 1,000 would become eligible as they grew older.

One in eight Delaware workers is an immigrant, making up a vital part of the state’s labor force.

  • 59,245 immigrant workers comprised 12 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

9,593

Accommodation and Food Services

7,607

Manufacturing

7,080

Construction

6,022

Educational Services

4,887

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

19

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

16

Accommodation and Food Services

16

Construction

16

Manufacturing

14

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 Delaware workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Food Preparation and Serving Related

6,140

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

5,822

Management

4,796

Construction and Extraction

4,758

Sales and Related

4,663

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)

Computer and Mathematical

26

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

24

Life, Physical, and Social Science

23

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

22

Healthcare Support

16

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 4 percent of Delaware’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in Delaware have contributed nearly a billion dollars in taxes.

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

  • Delaware residents in immigrant-led households had $2.7 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Delaware generate tens of millions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 7,944 immigrant business owners accounted for 16 percent of all self-employed Delaware residents in 2018 and generated $51.3 million in business income.
  • In 2018, immigrants accounted for 14 percent of business owners in the Philadelphia/Camden/ Wilmington metropolitan area, which spans Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

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