Immigrants in Texas

October 4, 2017

Texas has a long history of immigration, with the majority of immigrants hailing from Mexico. Immigrants now account for 17 percent of the state’s total population and support the local economy in a growing number of industries. Construction—one of the state’s largest and fastest growing industries—pulls nearly 40 percent of its workers from immigrants in the community.

As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Texas’ diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

One in six Texas residents is an immigrant, while 15 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • As of 2015, 4.7 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 17 percent of the population.
  • Texas was home to 2.2 million women, 2.2 million men, and 317,104 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (55.1 percent of immigrants), India (5 percent), El Salvador (4.3 percent), Vietnam (3.7 percent), and China (2.3 percent).
  • In 2016, 4.1 million people in Texas (15 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Over a third of all immigrants in Texas are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 1.7 million immigrants (35.8 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 982,471 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • 62.6 percent of immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Texas are found across the educational spectrum.

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

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

23.5

29.8

Some college

15.4

32.7

High school diploma only

20.6

26.7

Less than a high-school diploma

40.5

10.8

An estimated 1.4 million U.S. citizens in Texas live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 1.7 million undocumented immigrants comprised 35 percent of the immigrant population and 6.1 percent of the total state population in 2015.
  • 2.7 million people in Texas, including 1.2 million born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, one in seven children in the state was a U.S. citizen living with at least one undocumented family member (1 million children in total).

More than 110,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Texas.

  • As of 2016, 80 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Texas, or 140,688 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 57,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 37,000 would be eligible as they grew older.

Immigrants make up more than a fifth of the labor force in Texas and are integral to a range of industries.

  • 2.9 million immigrant workers comprised 21.6 percent of the labor force in 2015.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Construction

467,292

Manufacturing

343,237

Accommodation and Food Services

342,030

Retail Trade

324,093

Health Care and Social Assistance

315,292

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)

Construction

38.3

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

28.8

Other Services (except Public Administration)

28.6

Accommodation and Food Services

26.9

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting

26.1

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 Texas workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Construction and Extraction

446,103

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

291,294

Production

282,715

Food Preparation and Serving Related

273,636

Sales and Related

267,191

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)

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

45.4

Construction and Extraction

42.6

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

40.0

Production

33.4

Food Preparation and Serving Related

28.4

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

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 8.5 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014. 

Immigrants in Texas have contributed tens of billions of dollars in taxes.

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

  • Texans in immigrant-led households had $89.6 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Texas generate billions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 361,493 immigrant business owners accounted for 27.5 percent of all self-employed Texas residents in 2015 and generated $8.1 billion in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 42.2 percent of business owners in the Houston/Baytown/Sugar Land metropolitan area, 22.6 percent in the Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington metro area, 19.3 percent in San Antonio, and 11.8 percent in the Austin/Round Rock metro area.

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