Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 19,317,568
Population (2000 CB est.) 15,982,378
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 3,747,136
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 2,670,828
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 19.4 %
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 14.4%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 1,933,280
Share Naturalized (2012) 51.6 %
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 1,097,065
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 292,291
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 820,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $5,462,614,142
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 31,750,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of Florida in 2012 was 19,317,568 residents.

Between 2000 (population 15,982,378) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 272,260 residents. That was an annual average change of 1.6 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 12,937,926) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 304,445 residents. The annual average rate of change was 2.1 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 Florida was about 3,747,136 persons in 2012. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 19.4 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 87,860 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 272,260  people. That is a 32.3  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 40.3 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 38.8 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 83,535 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 171,395 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 63.0 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 41.5 percent of Florida's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 38.6 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in Florida'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 23.1 percent to 27.9 percent. In 2000, 44.8 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 41.4 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 73.3 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 76.2 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 1,933,280 residents of Florida, or 51.6 percent of the foreign-born population in Florida, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 1,207,502 residents, or 45.2 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 Florida's population resulting from net international migration has been about 186,270 people. It was 36.9 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 Florida were 329 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 27,044 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 116,001 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 Florida between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 2,966,941 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 Florida was 152,348 (50,114 pre-1982 residents and 102,234 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 Florida 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 http://www.dhs.gov/files/statistics/publications/yearbook.shtm) then select the desired year, click Legal Permanent Residents, data and then select "supplemental table 1."

Chart of Immigrant Admission by Fiscal Year


Florida has received 292,291 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 2,244 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

Florida Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $2,780.10 50.9%
LEP educ. $559.10 10.2%
Medicaid+ $530.60 9.7%
SCHIP $129.20 2.4%
Justice $578.90 10.6%
Welfare+ $317.10 5.8%
General $567.60 10.4%
Total $5,462.60  
Tax receipts $260.70  
Net Cost $5,201.90  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of Florida as of 2010 was about 820,000 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 Florida was 730,000 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 825,000 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 Florida 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 Florida, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 260,202) was 110.6 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 110.6 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected Florida's population in 2050 likely would be between 30,416,000 million and 31,750,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (24,820,000) 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 Florida as 32,746 in 2013.

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

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

Immigration Impact

Sanctuary Policies

City or County


Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

  • Gainesville joined an amicus curiae brief that urged the Supreme Court to strike down provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070.

Hollandale Beach

Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

  • Hollandale Beach joined an amicus curiae brief that urged the Supreme Court to strike down provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070.


Day Labor and Immigration Issues Fact Sheet

  • The Town of Jupiter owns the property and building that houses a day laborer site run by a not-for-profit organization named El Sol.


Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

  • Miami joined an amicus curiae brief that urged the Supreme Court to strike down provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070.

Resolution No. 10-00585 (2010)

  • “Whereas, SB 1070 requires the police ‘when practicable’, to detain people they ‘reasonably suspect’ are in the country without authorization; allows the police to charge immigrants with a state crime for not carrying immigration documents; creates a private right of action to sue cities upon the belief that the government has a policy or practice that restricts immigration law enforcement; and makes it a crime to stop on a public street to attempt to hire a temporary worker...the Miami City Commission denounces SB 1070 and resolves that unless and until Arizona rescinds said bill, the City should: (1) to the extent practicable, and in instances where there is no significant additional cost to the City or conflict with law, refrain from entering into any new or amended contracts to purchase goods or services from any company that is headquartered in Arizona, (2) not send City officials or employees to conferences in Arizona, and (3) review existing contracts for the purchase of goods and services with companies headquartered in Arizona and explore opportunities to discontinue those contracts and principles of fiscal responsibility....”

Environmental and Quality of Life Profile

Water: Florida has a daily, per-capita water demand of approximately 153 gallons.1 By 2050 Florida's population is projected to surge from 18 million in 2006 to 31.7 million.2 This means that if Florida's current growth rates continue, by 2050, Florida will have increased its public water demands by 2.1 billion gallons per day.

In particular, coastal states such as Florida may be affected more severely by climate change. In addition to more evaporation, higher sea levels from melted glaciers may push saltwater into underground sources of freshwater.3

One hundred years ago Florida had too much water, but its large swamps have been sacrificed to urban sprawl. So much of the landscape has been paved that water can no longer readily enter the ground to replenish aquifers. As a result, large quantities of water are regularly flushed into the ocean to prevent flooding. Florida currently leads the way in water reuse, recycling about 240 billion gallons annually; however, this is not enough. Florida currently uses 2.4 trillion gallons of water each year, and that number will continue to skyrocket with the swelling population. 4

"We just passed a crossroads. The chief water sources are basically gone," said John Mulliken, director of water supply for the South Florida Water Management District. "We really are at a critical moment in Florida history."5

"We just passed a crossroads. The chief water sources are basically gone," said John Mulliken, director of water supply for the South Florida Water Management District. "We really are at a critical moment in Florida history."6

Florida has begun to turn to desalination, both of sea water, and deep brackish wells, Desalination occurs especially in the Tampa Bay area, where the nation's largest desalination plant produces up to 25 million gallons of water per day.7 However, the 158 million dollar plant operating in Tampa Bay, and the high energy costs associated with desalination will drive up the cost of water considerably, as well as causing detrimental impacts on coastal marine life due to excess salt.8

Traffic: Florida highways endured a 78 percent increase in traffic between 1990 and 2008, more than double the national rate of 36 percent. In 2010, 47 percent of the state's major urban highways were named as "congested" by The Road Information Project (TRIP).9

Commuters in the Miami urban area lost an estimated 47 hours and 33 gallons of fuel due to congestion in 2007, placing it just outside the top ten nationally in both categories. Tampa-St. Petersburg residents also sat in traffic for an additional 47 hours, but wasted 30 gallons of fuel. Traffic was even worse in Orlando, where commuters wasted 53 hours and 35 gallons of fuel due to congestion. In Jacksonville, the average commuter suffered a delay of 39 hours and burned an additional 27 gallons of fuel.10

Congestion problems pervade outside the borders of the largest cities. In the Sarasota-Bradenton area, the typical commuter lost 25 hours and 15 gallons of fuel in 2007. Cape Coral commuters lost 29 hours and 17 gallons of fuel, and Pensacola came in just behind at 28 hours and 16 gallons. In total, congestion in Florida's urban areas cost $5.9 billion in wasted fuel and time.11 About 15 percent of Florida commuters had a commute of 45 minutes or longer in 2008.12

About one seventh (14 percent) of Florida roads were considered to be in poor or mediocre condition in 2010, and 16 percent of bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Motorists in the state pay an estimated $1.8 billion each year in extra maintenance and operating costs due to road conditions, or $128 per person.13

Disappearing open space: The amount of developed land in Florida increased by 2,743,400 acres from 1982 to 2007, growing at a pace of 114,700 acres per year over the last ten years of that period.14 Florida leads the nation in housing starts, attracting more than 900 new residents every day.15 In the Tampa Bay area, nearly 200,000 acres were developed between 1982 and 1997. As more land is paved over, water is prevented from sinking into the soil and replenishing groundwater; the area is estimated to lose between 7.3 million and 17 million gallons of water each year as a result.16 Florida leads the South in the amount of timberland lost to development, dropping from more than 20-million tree-covered acres in the 1950s to 15-million acres.17

A study of urban sprawl between 1970 and 1990 that calculated the impact of population increase and per capita land use found that 114.9 square miles of additional land were consumed by urban sprawl in the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood-Pompano metropolitan area, and 100% percent of that sprawl was attributable to population increase. In Orlando, 97.2 percent of 262.9 square miles of growth was due to population increase, 90.3 percent of 156.4 square miles of growth in Jacksonville was due to population increase, 84.9 percent of 358.7 square miles in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area was due to population increase, and 100 percent of 170.2 miles in square miles of growth in the West-Palm Beach-Boca Raton area was due to population increase.18

Half the Everglades have been lost to farms and development. The east side of the Everglades is almost built out, and officials warn that similar wetlands drainage and habitat destruction to the west are a serious danger. Roads and ditches have blocked and diverted the Everglades' natural freshwater flows. Wetlands that recharged aquifers and served as nurseries for wildlife have been drained and paved. Polluted runoff from asphalt and agriculture has flowed all the way to the Keys, devastating the Florida Bay.19

Biologists believe there is not enough open land left in the state to support more than 80 panthers, Florida's official state animal.20

Clearwater, Hialeah, Coral Springs, and Pembroke Pines have been designated "boomburgs" by the Fannie Mae Foundation. "Boomburgs" show double-digit population growth for each decade since 1950 and suffer from traffic, congestion, sprawl, and strained services. Unlike traditional cities, they lack a dense business core and remain suburban in character.21

Crowded housing: An estimated 179,311 of Florida’s housing units were classified as crowded in 2008, defined as units with more than one occupant per room. This amounted to 2.5 percent of the state’s housing units. In addition, 44,444 units were severely crowded, with at least 1.5 occupants per room.22 Nationally, crowded housing rates are driven upward by immigration, where 27 percent of children in immigrant families live in crowded housing compared to 9 percent of children with native-born parents. In Florida, the shares are 17 percent of children in immigrant families are in crowded housing compared to 10 percent of those in native-headed households.23  Out of all metropolitan areas with 65,000 people or more, Lake City had the fourth-highest rate of severe crowding in 2008.24

Solid Waste: Florida generates 1.2 tons of solid waste per capita each year.25

Air Quality: Of the 30 Florida counties graded for high ozone days in the American Lung Association's 2010 assessment, 11 received an "F," 6 were graded "D," and only one county (St. Lucie) earned an "A."

Poverty: Florida's immigrants are more likely to be poor than their native-born counterparts. In 2007, 14.4 percent of foreign-born households were below the poverty line, compared to 11.6 percent of native households. An additional 12.2 percent of the foreign-born and 8.8 percent of native households were not in poverty but had incomes less than 1.5 times the poverty level.26 22.2 percent of children in immigrant families were poor in 2006, compared to 16.1 percent of native children.27

Education: The enrollment of Florida's K-12 education system increased by over 293,000 (12 percent) between the 2000 and 2006 school years, and is projected to increase by an additional 348,000 (13 percent) by the year 2015.28 Florida had 15.6 students per teacher at the start of the 2008-09 school year, which ranked 38th in the nation.29


Florida's schools are so overcrowded that legislators are considering paying students to go to private schools instead of public ones.30 In Miami-Dade County, 41 percent of schools are at least 150 percent over capacity,31 and locker rooms and custodial closets have been converted into classrooms.32

Because Florida's high immigration rate means that population growth often exceeds projections, school enrollment projections (the basis of the state's funding formula) frequently underestimate actual enrollments, "leaving school districts scrambling to provide additional personnel and programs without fresh infusions of cash.33 "Recently, lawmakers discovered they needed an extra $500 million to pay for an enrollment that exceeded projections by tens of thousands of students.34 In Miami-Dade alone, almost 15,000 foreign-born students registered in the first half of the 2000-2001 school year-after funding had already been calculated.35

"Our anticipated gains in the number of foreign-born students alone will require us to build one elementary school a month just to keep up," Miami-Dade school superintendent Roger Cuevas says. Every year since 1994, between 12,000 and 20,000 new foreign-born students have enrolled in the district's schools.35

Portable classrooms have doubled at Camelot Elementary during the past two years, to the point that students have no place to play outdoors other than a basketball court and a pavilion. The 35 boxy buildings have taken over softball fields and recess areas as the east Orange County School tries to educate 1,200 students on a campus built for 750. Camelot isn't alone. In the past two years, the number of portable classrooms in Orange County has grown by 30 percent. With 4,280 of the units throughout the district, about half of Orange County's classes are in portables — more than anywhere else in Central Florida. In Orange, 80,000 to 100,000 students spend at least part of their day in the structures.37

More than 70 students have transferred from Ocean City Elementary because an aging and outmoded sewage treatment plant next door is emitting a foul odor. "The smell affects us physically as well as the operation of our school," said Principal Debbie Boutwell. She said the school's budget is affected because of the 77 children who received zoning waivers not to attend the school, 70 cited the smell as the reason. "We get roughly $3,800 per student, so that's a lot of money that we aren't able to use for staffing," Boutwell said. "We have to write grants to get extra programs like PE and music." She and her staff had hoped that Okaloosa County, which operates the treatment plant just outside Fort Walton Beach, would close it soon. But officials last week said that it will be another three years before that could happen.38

In Sarasota, some classrooms have more than 40 students at a time.39 Manatee County, lunch lines are sometimes so long that students don't have time to eat unless they miss class.40 Pasco County has opened six new schools in the last three years, has three more scheduled to open in the upcoming months, and still projects that by 2005, two high schools each will receive 700 more students than they have room for. No affordable land is available for further school construction.41


  1. U.S. Geological Survey 2000.
  2. Jack Martin and Stanley Fogel. "Projecting the U.S. Population to 2050." FAIR. March 2006.
  3. Brian Skoloff. "Much of US Could See a Water Shortage." Associated Press. October 26, 2007.
  4. Patrick Huyghe. "Water, Water Everywhere, So Let's All Have a Drink." Discover Magazine. June 11, 2008.
  5. "Crisis feared as U.S. water supplies dry up: Government projects at least 36 states will face shortages within five years," Associated Press (on MSNBC) Oct. 27, 2007.
  6. "Table DP-1-4, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000," Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau.
  7. Selected Economic Characteristics: 2005 Data Set — 2005 American Community Survey, American Fact Finder, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.
  9. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Florida's Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  10. Texas Transportation Institute, "Urban Mobility Report 2009," p 8-9, 22-24
  11. Texas Transportation Institute, "Urban Mobility Report 2009."
  12. American Community Survey, 2008 Estimates, Custom Data Table.
  13. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Florida's Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  14. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, "Summary Report: 2007 National Resources Inventory."
  15. Beck, Roy and Leon Kolankiewicz, "Weighing Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities," NumbersUSA, March 2001
  16. Michael Grunwald, "Growing Pains in Southwest Fla.," The Washington Post, June 25, 2002
  17. Ibid
  18. Selected Housing Characteristics: 2005 Data Set — 2005 American Community Survey, American Fact Finder, U.S. Census Bureau.
  19. Haya El Nasser, "U.S. Neighborhoods Grow More Crowded," USA Today, July 7, 2002.
  20. Randy Capps, "Hardship among Children of Immigrants: Finding from the 1999 National Survey of America's Families," Urban Institute, 2001.
  21. Brad Smith, "Clearwater Booms with Growth," Tampa Tribune, June 22, 2001.
  22. American Community Survey, Three-Year Estimates 2006-2008. Data retrieved using ACS Custom Table tool.
  23. Kids Count Data Center, which used 2008 American Community Survey Data.
  24. American Community Survey, 2008 estimates. Data retrieved using ACS Custom Table tool.
  25. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.
  26. Migration Information Source State Data (Migration Policy Institute)
  27. Urban Institute, Children of Immigrants Data Tool.
  28. "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.
  29. National Education Association, "Rankings and Estimates," 2010.
  30. Mark Lane, "Voucher Fever May Not Stop at Schools," Daytona Beach News Journal, February 23, 2001.
  31. Tamara Henry, "School Rolls Hit Record," USA Today, August 22, 2000.
  32. "Florida Fails Children of Miami-Dade County," Education World, July 19, 2000..
  33. Laura Zuckerman, "Outlook for Education Spending is Grim," Daytona Beach News-Journal, March 2, 2001.
  34. Suzanne Robinson, "St. Lucie Student Number Topples Projections," Vero Beach Press Journal, September 2, 2001.
  35. Dara Kam, "State May Charge Foreigners Tuition," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, January 25, 2001.
  36. "Florida Fails Children of Miami-Dade County," Education World, July 19, 2000.
  37. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.
  38. Ibid
  39. Courtney Cairns Pastor and Chris Davis, "Class Sizes, Small Budgets Strain Schools," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 2, 2001.
  40. Ibid
  41. Kent Fischer, "Space Crunch Spurs Talk of 'New School,' " St. Petersburg Times, March 18, 2001.