Immigrants in Texas Fill Economic Gaps, Remain Crucial to Fabric of Communities
March 1, 2016
The growth of immigration in Texas and immigrants’ impact on the state’s neighborhoods, churches, businesses and schools are substantial. The state’s foreign-born population nearly doubled as a percentage of the overall population between 1990 and 2013. The number of immigrants in Texas with a college degree increased by more than 90 percent between 2000 and 2011. And immigrants without authorization are key to Texas’s labor force, nearly 9 percent of which is undocumented.
“Immigration reform is almost universally supported by law enforcement, the clergy, and the American people.”
– Art Acevedo, Police Chief, Austin, Texas
A Growing Immigrant Population
Foreign-born Texans accounted for more than 16 percent of the state’s overall population in 2013, a significant increase from their 9 percent share in 1990. More than 12 percent of registered voters in Texas were new Americans — naturalized citizens or U.S.-born children of immigrants — in 2012.
Most immigrants in Texas continue to be people who were born in Latin American countries, but their immigration rates have decreased in the past 10 years, according to a May 2015 state demographer’s report. At the same time, Asian immigrants moving to the state have more than doubled.
Demographic changes from Asian and Latino immigrants continue to shape the city of Austin in particular. Many immigrant families have moved to the city from other parts of the state for high-tech and trade sector jobs, as well as construction and service-sector jobs.
Among foreign-born Texas residents, 37 percent are undocumented, which accounts for more than 6 percent of the state’s total population. More than 13 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade have at least one parent who is undocumented.
Immigrants Could Help Fill STEM Jobs; Entrepreneurs Open New Businesses
Texas faces a workforce skills gap. STEM job openings in Texas outnumber unemployed workers with the associated talent and expertise. From 2009 to 2011, 2.5 STEM jobs were posted online for every unemployed STEM worker in the state.
As high-tech fields grow, this gap likely will continue to widen. One study estimates that Texas will need to fill 660,310 new STEM jobs by 2020.
Healthcare is likely to be the industry most affected by the deficit. Texas already has one of the lowest numbers of doctors per capita in the nation. What’s more, researchers estimate Texas will be short more than 100,000 registered nurses by 2030.
Yet immigrants are overrepresented in the high-tech sector. While immigrants account for 16.5 percent of the Texas population as a whole, 25 percent of STEM workers in the state who held an advanced degree were foreign-born as of 2010.
Immigrants in these fields continue to create jobs. New H-1B visas awarded to Texas between 2010 and 2013 will translate into more than 80,000 new jobs for workers born in the U.S. by 2020, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. Immigrant entrepreneurs were responsible for more than 30 percent of new businesses in the state from 2007 to 2010, and in 2010, nearly one-fourth of all business owners in Texas were foreign-born.
Border Mayors Call for Immigration Reform
Mayors in border towns across Texas have been consistent voices in support of broad immigration solutions. Residents and elected officials alike in the Rio Grande Valley recognize the importance of immigration to their economies and development in recent years.
“We have a lot of people from Mexico investing in our area. This is why we have had a lot of success in Mission, being one of the fastest growing cities in the country,” Mayor Beto Salinas of Mission, Texas, said in September.
Salinas and other leaders have appealed for immigration solutions that further economic growth in a region that was one of the poorest in the country — not unrealistic proposals that would stifle growth.
Texas Faith, Law Enforcement and Business Media Availability
Art Acevedo, Austin Police Chief
Eddie Aldrete, Senior Vice President, IBC Bank; National Immigration Forum Board Member
Tim Moore, Senior Pastor, Walk Worthy Baptist Church
Lupe Valdez, Dallas County Sheriff
Please contact Cathleen Farrell to arrange interviews.