Immigrants in Kansas

August 6, 2020

Kansas has a small but growing immigrant community. While 1 in 14 Kansans is an immigrant, foreign-born residents make up a larger share of the state’s labor force. Construction, an important industry in Kansas, relies on immigrants for 15 percent of its employees. The majority of immigrants speak English well and are naturalized citizens or eligible for naturalization. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Kansas’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Seven percent of Kansas residents are immigrants, while another 7 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2018, 209,362 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 7 percent of the population.
  • Kansas was home to 96,533 women, 98,921 men, and 13,908 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (41 percent of immigrants), India (9 percent), Vietnam (6 percent), Guatemala (4 percent), and China (4 percent).
  • In 2018, 212,366 people in Kansas (7 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Two out of five immigrants in Kansas are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 83,900 immigrants (40 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 33,700 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Nearly three in four (73 percent) immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Kansas are concentrated at either end of the educational spectrum.

  • More than one-fourth (28 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while over one-third (36 percent) had less than a high school diploma.

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

28

34

Some college

18

33

High school diploma only

18

26

Less than a high school diploma

36

6

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

Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens in Kansas live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 75,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 35 percent of the immigrant population and 3 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 106,933 people in Kansas, including 54,835 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 (42,661 children in total).

Kansas is home to thousands of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • 5,550 active DACA recipients lived in Kansas as of March 2020, while DACA has been granted to 7,315 people in total since 2012.
  • As of 2019, 73 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Kansas had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 3,000 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 11 Kansas workers is an immigrant, making up a vital part of the state’s labor force.

  • 140,374 immigrant workers comprised 9 percent of the labor force in 2018. 
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Manufacturing

24,500

Accommodation and Food Services

17,715

Construction

16,162

Health Care and Social Assistance

14,600

Educational Services

12,967

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)

Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction

18

Construction

15

Accommodation and Food Services

15

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

14

Other Services (except Public Administration)

13

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 Kansas workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Production

18,824

Transportation and Material Moving

15,529

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

14,490

Construction and Extraction

13,964

Food Preparation and Serving Related

13,684

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)

Life, Physical, and Social Science

25

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

21

Computer and Mathematical

18

Construction and Extraction

16

Production

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 Kansas’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in Kansas have contributed over a billion dollars in taxes.

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

  • Kansas residents in immigrant-led households had $4.4 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Kansas generate hundreds of millions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 13,938 immigrant business owners accounted for 9 percent of all self-employed Kansas residents in 2018 and generated $322.9 million in business income.
  • In 2018, immigrants accounted for 14 percent of business owners in the Kansas City metropolitan area, which spans Kansas and Missouri.

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