Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 731,449
Population (2000 CB est.) 626,932
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 52,313
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 37,170
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 7.2%
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 5.3%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 27,288
Share Naturalized (2012) 52.2%
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 14,913
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 964
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 10,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $138,514,210
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 897,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of Alaska in 2012 was 731,449 residents.

Between 2000 (population 626,932) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 8,532 residents. That was an annual average change of 1.3 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 550,043) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 7,689 residents. The annual average rate of change was 1.3 percent compared to the national rate of change of 1.2 percent.

Foreign-Born Population

According to the Census Bureau the foreign-born population of Alaska was about 52,313 persons in 2012. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 7.2 percent. The chart above shows the long-term change in the state's foreign-born population based on Census Bureau data.

Foreign-Born Change

Between 2000 and 2012 the Census Bureau estimate indicates an average annual rate of change in the foreign-born population of about 1,236 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 8,532  people. That is a 14.5 percent share of the state's population change (not including the children born in the United States to illegal aliens). The foreign-born population grew by 40.7 percent between 2000 and 2012.

Immigration also contributes to population growth through the U.S.-born children of immigrants. Nationally the share of births to the foreign-born is about double their share of the population. A 14.4 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 1,605 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 2,845 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 33.3 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 44.8 percent of Alaska's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 39.7 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in Alaska's immigrant population may be seen in data on the share of the population over five years of age that speaks a language other than English at home. Between 2000 and 2012, the share of non-English speakers changed from 14.3 percent to 16.6 percent. In 2000, 37.3 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 28.9 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 21.3 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 20.7 percent of those who spoke English less than very well.

The chart above shows the regional composition of the state's foreign-born population and how it has changed from between 2000 and 2012.


Census Bureau data in 2012 indicate that 27,288 residents of Alaska, or 52.2 percent of the foreign-born population in Alaska, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 20,011 residents, or 53.8 percent, in 2000.

Nationally, 40.3 percent of the foreign-born population was naturalized in 2000, and 45.8 percent in 2012.

Net International Migration (NIM)

Data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), the Census Bureau estimated that between 2000 and 2012, the change in Alaska's population resulting from net international migration has been about 2,945 people. It was 17.4 percent of total change (not including the children born to the immigrants after their arrival in the United States). 1   The remainder was due to net domestic migration and natural change (births minus deaths).


  1. A negative percentage results when there was an overall population decrease. A percentage greater than 100 percent results when domestic migration is negative, i.e, a net loss from interstate migration.

Immigrant Admissions

Recent "green card" recipients who intend to reside in Alaska were 511 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 270 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 1,651 persons. Immigrant admissions data are from the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.

The chart above shows recent immigrant admissions and the cumulative amount of immigrant admissions since FY'65. The cumulative total of immigrant admissions to Alaska between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 47,092 persons.

The data for fiscal years 1989-91 were artificially raised by the inclusion of former illegal aliens who were amnestied in 1986. According to INS data (1991) the number of amnesty applicants from Alaska was 754 (378 pre-1982 residents and 376 agricultural workers). These data were published by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and reported in "Report on the Legalized Alien Population," March 1992.

Admissions by Nationality: FY'96 - FY'05

The table below furnishes INS data by nationality on the immigrants who were admitted for residence in Alaska between 1996 and 2005.

The INS data are for nationals of the countries with the largest number of immigrants admitted or adjusted to legal residence each year since 1996. The absence of data means that the total number of admissions to the United States by nationals of that country was not enough to merit detailed reporting in that year.

The Department of Homeland Security website has detailed data on immigrant admissions since FY'03 by year and by source country and intended state of residence. (See then select the desired year, click Legal Permanent Residents, data and then select "supplemental table 1."

Chart of Immigrant Admission by Fiscal Year


Alaska has received 964 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 88 refugees in fiscal year 2012. The chart above shows the annual admissions over the last ten years and the cumulative total of those admissions using data complied by the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The U.S. government program that distributes new refugees among the states is the only immigration program that provides state governments the opportunity to participate in deciding how many newcomers will come to that state each year.

Illegal Aliens

Alaska Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $62.40 45.1%
LEP educ. $12.60 9.1%
Medicaid+ $7.80 5.6%
SCHIP $2.40 1.7%
Justice $6.80 4.9%
Welfare+ $16.70 12.1%
General $29.90 21.6%
Total $138.50  
Tax receipts $1.10  
Net Cost $137.40  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of Alaska as of 2010 was about 10,000 persons. This is part of an overall estimate of the U.S. illegal alien population of about 11,900,000 persons.

DHS Estimate - The current estimate by DHS of the illegal alien population in Alaska was n/a in 2012. The DHS estimate is available for only the 10 states with the largest illegal alien populations. The DHS estimate of the national illegal alien population in 2012 was 11,430,000 .

Other Estimates - The Pew Hispanic Center estimates the illegal alien population of the state at <10,000 as of>

Fiscal Cost of Illegal Aliens

FAIR's most recent estimate of the cost outlays due to illegal immigration and tax receipts from illegal aliens in Alaska are as shown on the right:

Limited English Proficiency Students

Data are not available nationally on immigrant students (either legally or illegally resident in the United States) who are enrolled in primary and secondary schools (K-12). However, a large majority of these students enrolled in Limited English Proficiency/English Language Learning (LEP/ELL) instruction programs may be assumed to be children of either legal or illegal immigrants with a predominance of children of illegal aliens.

In Alaska, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 16,759 ) was 85.0 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 99.0 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected Alaska's population in 2050 likely would be between 876,000 million and 897,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (791,000) if immigration were reduced to a level where it balanced the number of U.S. residents leaving to reside outside of the United states, i.e., zero-net immigration. See "Projecting the U.S. Population to 2050: Four Immigration Scenarios," FAIR 2006.

Foreign Students

Data compiled by the Institute of International Education (IIE) record the number of foreign students attending post-secondary school in Alaska as 643 in 2013.

The chart above illustrates the change in the number of foreign students attending school in Alaska since 1997.

For information on foreign student issues see: Foreign Students in the United States.

Immigration Impact

Sanctuary Policies


House Joint Resolution 22 (23rd Legislature, May 2003)

  • Prohibits agencies and instrumentalities of the state from disclosing views, associations, or activities of any individual, group, association, organization, corporation, business, or partnership relating to immigration matters unless the information directly relates to the investigation of criminal activities and there are reasonable grounds to suspect that such information is involved in the criminal conduct

City or County


Resolution No. AR 2003-223 (July 15, 2003)

  • "An agency or instrumentality of the Municipality may not, (1) unless necessary to protect the safety of people, use Municipal resources or institutions for the enforcement of Federal immigration matters, which are the responsibility of the Federal government..."


Resolution No. 4036 (January 6, 2003)

City Council Meeting Minutes (January 6, 2003)

  • This Resolution forbids in the absence of probable cause of criminal activity, the "enforcement of immigration matters, which are entirely the responsibility of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. No city service will be denied on the basis of citizenship."

Haines Borough

Resolution No. 05-12-078 (December 13, 2005)

  • "Unless there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity as defined by Alaska Statutes, the Borough, its officers, employees and agents shall not, even where permitted by the USA Patriot Act or related Executive Orders...Enforce immigration matters, these being the jurisdiction of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service."


Resolution No. 03-886 (October 2, 2003)

  • " is the policy of the City and Borough of Sitka that the City and Borough of Sitka shall not use its resources or institutions for the enforcement of federal immigration matters pursuant to the USA Patriot Act which are the responsibility of the federal government."

Environmental and Quality of Life Profile

Water: By 2050 the state's population is projected to rise to 897,000.1 Alaska has a daily, per-capita water demand of 127.6 gallons.2  This means that by 2050 public water usage will have increased by nearly 29 million gallons each day.

Trends for the Future: Proposals to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are at the center of a national debate rooted in the U.S.'s ever increasing dependence on foreign energy supplies. Yet efforts to combat energy shortages will be doomed to failure if we do not lower immigration, finds a report by San Jose University professor Dr. Donald F. Anthrop, a past consultant to the California Energy Commission on energy conservation standards. His study shows that immigration has been directly responsible for a full one-third of the increase in U.S. energy use over the last 25 years.3

Pollution:Pollution increases as population rises. In Alaska, the effects are being felt by the area's abundant populations of fish, shellfish, birds, and marine mammals. As more and more pollutants go into the sea, water quality is worsening. DDT and PCBs are now found in alarmingly high concentrations in Alaska's marine life, and many seabird and marine animal populations are in severe decline.4

Traffic:Nearly half (46 percent) of Alaska's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Vehicle travel on Alaska's highways increased 30 percent from 1990 to 2007.5 Driving on rough roads takes a toll on passenger vehicles in 2007, the typical Alaska driver paid $324 in operating and maintenance costs that were attributable to poor conditions.6

The typical Anchorage commuter sat in 10 extra hours of traffic due to congestion in 2007. In total, Anchorage commuters lost time and fuel valued at $32 million.7 About 8 percent of Alaska commuters had a commute of 45 minutes or longer in 2008.8

Crowded housing:An estimated 14,769 of Alaska's housing units were classified as crowded in 2008, defined as units with more than one occupant per room. This amounted to 6.3 percent of the state's housing units. 5,281 of those were severely crowded, with at least 1.5 occupants per room.9 Though sufficient data on the state's immigrants is unavailable, crowded housing is driven by immigrants nationwide. Nationwide, children in immigrant families were three times as likely to live in crowded conditions as children in native families (27 percent to 9 percent).10

Poverty: Alaska's immigrants are more likely to be poor than their native-born counterparts. In 2007, 9.5 percent of foreign-born households were below the poverty line, compared to 8.9 percent of native households. An additional 12.2 percent of the foreign-born and 7.3 percent of native households had incomes between 100 and 149 percent of the poverty level.11

Schools: Public school enrollment in Alaska decreased by about 4,700 students between 1998 and 2008. Over the same period, the number of students per teacher decreased from 17.6 to 15.0. 12

In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, the population is growing faster than new schools can be built. Officials are examining dramatic changes to the school day. The changes under review include year-round classes, double shifts, and sending students from bulging classrooms in the Wasilla and Palmer areas to roomier schools in Big Lake or Sutton. Crowded classes are already a problem, especially at Wasilla High School and several elementary schools, where students as young as first graders attend school in portable classrooms. In 2005, about 3,070 children were expected to crowd a group of core-area elementary schools built to hold about 2,700.13

End Notes:

  1. Jack Martin and Stanley Fogel. "Projecting the U.S. Population to 2050." FAIR. March 2006.
  2. U.S. Geological Survey 2000.
  3. Donald Anthrop, Running in Place: Immigration's Impact on U.S. Energy Usage, FAIR Horizon Press, 2002.
  4. Rick Steiner, "Alaska's Waters Need Protection," Anchorage Daily News, January 23, 2003.
  5. Report Card for America's Infrastructure, Accessed July 22, 2010 (2009 Data).
  6. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Rough Roads Ahead," May 2009.
  7. Texas Transportation Institute, "Urban Mobility Report 2009."
  8. American Community Survey, 2008 Estimates, Custom Data Table.
  9. American Community Survey, Three-Year Estimates 2006-2008. Data retrieved using ACS Custom Table tool.
  10. "Wisconsin Children in Immigrant Families," WisKids Count Issue Brief, Spring 2008. Cited 2006 ACS data.
  11. Migration Information Source State Data (Migration Policy Institute)
  12. NEA, "Rankings and Estimates," 1999 and 2009 editions.
  13. "Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.