Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 917,092
Population (2000 CB est.) 783,600
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 77,497
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 44,898
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 8.5 %
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 5.1%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 38,082
Share Naturalized (2012) 49.1 %
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 20,892
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 444
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 30,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $305,298,493
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 1,266,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of Delaware in 2012 was 917,092 residents.

Between 2000 (population 783,600) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 10,897 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 666,168) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 11,743 residents. The annual average rate of change was 1.6 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 Delaware was about 77,497 persons in 2012. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 8.5 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 2,500 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 10,897 people. That is a 24.4  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 72.6 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 17.0 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 1,925 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 4,585 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 42.1 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 47.5 percent of Delaware's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 47.2 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in Delaware'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 9.5 percent to 12.9 percent. In 2000, 40.8 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 36.8 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 54.7 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 63.7 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 38,082 residents of Delaware, or 49.1 percent of the foreign-born population in Delaware, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 19,052 residents, or 42.4 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 Delaware's population resulting from net international migration has been about 4,375 people. It was 22.5 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 Delaware were 310 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 549 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 2,248 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 Delaware between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 52,754 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 Delaware was 5,293 (4,319 pre-1982 residents and 974 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 Delaware 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


Delaware has received 444 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 0 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

Delaware Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $140.50 46.0%
LEP educ. $19.30 6.3%
Medicaid+ $24.10 7.9%
SCHIP $6.40 2.1%
Justice $20.30 6.6%
Welfare+ $33.90 11.1%
General $60.80 19.9%
Total $305.30  
Tax receipts $3.70  
Net Cost $301.60  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of Delaware as of 2010 was about 30,000 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 Delaware 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 25,000 as of 2010.

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 Delaware 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 Delaware, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 7,028) was 307.7 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 112.4 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected Delaware's population in 2050 likely would be between 1,235,000 million and 1,266,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (1,098,000) 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 Delaware as 4,337 in 2013.

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

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

Immigration Impact

Environmental and Quality of Life Profile

Traffic: Travel on Delaware highways jumped by 42 percent between 1990 and 2008, placing a strain on the state's road system. In 2010, over one third (34%) of Delaware's major urban highways were considered congested.1 As population growth put more traffic on the roads, the average commute for Delaware residents increased 20 percent, from 20 minutes in 2000 to 24 minutes in 2004.2 About 14 percent of Delaware commuters had a commute of 45 minutes or longer in 2008.3

Water: By 2050 the state's population is projected to rise from 850,000 in 2006 to 1.3 million. Delaware has a daily, per-capita water demand of 121.2 gallons.4 That implies an increased water usage of 54.5 million gallons per year by 2050 at current rates of growth.

Chesapeake Bay: Delaware is one of six states which make up the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the human population of which has already reached more than 21 million people.5 The EPA estimates that the Chesapeake Bay is shrinking at a rate of more than 3,000 acres of wetlands every year.6 If growth continues in the Chesapeake Bay watershed at its current rate, the Conservation Fund predicts that 9.5 million acres of forested land within the watershed will be developed by 2030, reversing virtually all gains made so far in restoring the bay.7 At the same time, the population of the coastal United States — already incredibly dense, with over 50 percent of Americans living within 50 miles of the coast — is expected to grow to nearly 75 percent.8 The entire state of Delaware lies within 50 miles of the coast.

Air Quality: The American lung association gave all three of Delaware's counties a grade of "F" for high ozone days in both 2005 and 2010.9

Disappearing Open Space: The amount of developed land in Delaware increased by 121,400 acres from 1982 to 2007, growing at a pace of 6,570 acres per year over the last ten years of that period.10 In 2002, the American Planning Association said that the state expected a possible loss of 125,000 acres of open space by 2020.11

A study of urban sprawl between 1970 and 1990 that calculated the impact of population increase and per capita land use found that 78.0 square miles of additional land were consumed by urban sprawl in the Wilmington area, with spillover into New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and 35.7 percent of that sprawl was attributable to population increase.12

Solid Waste: Delaware generates 1.3 tons of solid waste per capita each year.13

Crowded Housing: An estimated 4,719 of Delaware's housing units were classified as crowded in 2008, defined as units with more than one occupant per room. This amounted to 1.4 percent of the state's housing units. In addition, 1,046 units were severely crowded, with at least 1.5 occupants per room.14 7 percent of the state's children live in crowded housing.15 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).16

In Georgetown, an influx of immigrants working in local chicken processing plant created a shortage of affordable housing in the late 1990s. Deteriorating single-family houses — many purchased for $40,000 or less a few years ago — were able to charge up to $1,000 a month in rent by 1997. Many of these houses are shared by half-dozen or more tenants, leading to further deterioration. Georgetown's mayor and other town officials said the situation had reached a crisis point.17

Poverty: Delaware's immigrants are more likely to be poor than their native-born counterparts. In 2007, 11.2 percent of foreign-born households were below the poverty line, compared to 10.4 percent of native households. An additional 11.2 percent of the foreign-born and 7.4 percent of native households were not in poverty but had incomes less than 1.5 times the poverty level.18 16.6 percent of children in immigrant families were poor in 2006, compared to 12.8 percent of native children.19

Impact of Immigration on Delaware Schools

Between 2000 and 2006 Delaware's elementary and high school enrollment increased by 6.7 percent (over 8,000 students) and is projected to grow by an additional 8.3 percent by 2015 to a total student enrollment of 131,000.20 Delaware's student to teacher ratio currently ranks 30th in the nation.21


  1. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Delaware's Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  2. "Table DP-1-4, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000," Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau. "Table DP-1-4, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 1990," 1990 Census, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. American Community Survey, 2008 Estimates, Custom Data Table.
  4. U.S. Geological Survey 2000.
  5. American Community Survey County Data
  6. Virginia DEQ, "Restoring Virginia's Wetlands, A Citizen's Toolkit," 2006
  7. The Conservation Fund, "The State of Chesapeake Forests," 2006
  8. NOAA, "Population Trends Along the Coastal United States: 1980 2008," 2005
  9. American Lung Association, "State of the Air," 2005 and 2010.
  10. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, "Summary Report: 2007 National Resources Inventory."
  11. "2002 State of the States," American Planning Association.
  12. Beck, Roy and Leon Kolankiewicz, "Weighing Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities," NumbersUSA, March 2001
  13. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.
  14. American Community Survey, Three-Year Estimates 2006-2008. Data retrieved using ACS Custom Table tool.
  15. Kids Count Data Center, which used 2008 American Community Survey Data.
  16. "Wisconsin Children in Immigrant Families," WisKids Count Issue Brief, Spring 2008. Cited 2006 ACS data.
  17. Patricia Rivera, "Housing Woes Plague Georgetown," News Journal, November 28, 1997.
  18. Migration Information Source State Data (Migration Policy Institute)
  19. Urban Institute, Children of Immigrants Data Tool.
  20. "Overview of Public Elementary and Secondary Schools and Districts: School Year 1999-2000," National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. "Public Elementary and Secondary School Student Enrollment, High School Completions, and Staff From the Common Core of Data: School Year 2005-06, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, June 2007. Projections of Education Statistics to 2010, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.
  21. "Public Elementary and Secondary School Student Enrollment, High School Completions, and Staff From the Common Core of Data: School Year 2005-06, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, June 2007.