Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 12,875,255
Population (2000 CB est.) 12,419,293
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 1,791,330
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 1,529,058
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 13.9 %
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 11.8%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 840,580
Share Naturalized (2012) 46.9 %
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 443,628
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 41,354
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 550,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $4,592,121,791
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 17,962,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of Illinois in 2012 was 12,875,255 residents.

Between 2000 (population 12,419,293) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 37,221 residents. That was an annual average change of 0.3 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 11,430,602) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 98,869 residents. The annual average rate of change was 0.8 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 Illinois was about 1,791,330 persons in 2012. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 13.9 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 21,410 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 37,221  people. That is a 88.7  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 17.2 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 27.8 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 47,010 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 68,420 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 183.8 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 38.0 percent of Illinois's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 45.0 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in Illinois'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 19.2 percent to 22.6 percent. In 2000, 47.5 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 40.8 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 58.1 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 61.6 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 840,580 residents of Illinois, or 46.9 percent of the foreign-born population in Illinois, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 603,521 residents, or 39.5 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 Illinois's population resulting from net international migration has been about 70,840 people. It was 97.1 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 Illinois were 101 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 19,867 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 39,844 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 Illinois between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 1,727,014 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 Illinois was 159,760 (120,983 pre-1982 residents and 38,777 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 Illinois 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


Illinois has received 41,354 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 2,082 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

Illinois Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $2,046.70 44.6%
LEP educ. $430.30 9.4%
Medicaid+ $570.80 12.4%
SCHIP $154.40 3.4%
Justice $379.70 8.3%
Welfare+ $328.70 7.2%
General $588.30 12.8%
Total $4,592.10  
Tax receipts $273.40  
Net Cost $4,318.70  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of Illinois as of 2010 was about 550,000 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 Illinois was 540,000 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 525,000 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 Illinois 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 Illinois, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 176,262) was 122.5 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 103.8 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected Illinois's population in 2050 likely would be between 17,165,000 million and 17,962,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (13,504,000) 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 Illinois as 39,132 in 2013.

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

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

Immigration Impact

Sanctuary Policies

City or County


Municipal Code of Chicago §§ 2-173-020 & 2-173-040 (March 29, 2006)

  • California “No agent or agency shall request information about or otherwise investigate or assist in the investigation of the citizenship or immigration status of any person unless such inquiry or investigation is required by Illinois State Statute, federal regulation, or court decision.” (020)
  • “No agent or agency shall condition the provision of City of Chicago benefits, opportunities, or services on matters related to citizenship or immigration status unless required to do so by statute, federal regulation, or court decision.” (040)
  • Foreign identification is an adequate form of identification, not subject to a higher level of scrutiny. (040)

Welcoming City Ordinance, §2-173-042 Civil Immigration Enforcement Actions- Federal Responsibility September 12, 2012)

  • “…no agency or agent shall: (1) arrest, detain or continue to detain a person solely on the belief that the person is not present legally in the United States, or that the person has committed a civil immigration violation; (2) arrest, detain, or continue to detain a person based on an administrative warrant entered into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center database, or successor or similar database maintained by the United States, when the administrative warrant is based solely on a violation of a civil immigration law; or (3) detain, or continue to detain a person based upon an immigration detainer, when such immigration detainer is based solely on a violation of a civil immigration law.”
  • Exceptions to this rule where individual “(1) has an outstanding criminal warrant; (2) has been convicted of a felony in any court of competent jurisdiction; (3) is a defendant in a criminal case in any court of competent jurisdiction where a judgment has not been entered and a felony charge is pending: or (4) has been identified as a known gang member either in a law enforcement agency’s database or by his own admission.”
  • “Unless an agency or agent is acting pursuant to a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is unrelated to the enforcement of a civil immigration law, no agency or agent shall: (A) permit ICE agents access to a person being detained by, or in the custody of, the agency or agent; (B) permit ICE agents use of agency facilities for investigative interviews or other investigative purpose; or (C) while on duty, expend their time responding to ICE inquiries or communicating with ICE regarding a person’s custody status or release date.”

Cook County

Ordinance No. 11-O-73 (September 7, 2011)

  • “The Sheriff of Cook County shall decline ICE detainer requests unless there is a written agreement with the federal government by which all costs incurred by Cook County in complying with the ICE detainer will be reimbursed.”
  • “Unless ICE agents have a criminal warrant, or County officials have a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is not related to the enforcement of immigration laws, ICE agents shall not be given access to individuals or allowed to use County facilities for investigative interviews or other purposes, and County personnel shall not expend their time responding to ICE inquiries or communicating with ICE regarding individuals’ incarceration status or release dates while on duty.”
  • “There being no legal authority upon which the federal government may compel an expenditure of County resources to comply with an ICE detainer issued pursuant to 8 USC § 1226 or 8 USC § 1357(d), there shall be no expenditure of any County resources or effort by on-duty County personnel for this purpose, except as expressly provided within this Ordinance.”


Resolution No. 22-R-08 (March 4, 2008)

  • City benefits, opportunities, or services shall not be conditioned on matters related to citizenship or immigrant status.
  • The Police Department shall not assist in the investigation of the citizenship or immigration status of a person unless such inquiry is related to a criminal investigation by the Police or if it is otherwise required by law.
  • City agencies and employees shall not disclose information about immigration status unless required by law.
  • Foreign identification shall be an acceptable form of identification and shall not be subject to a higher level of scrutiny.


Water: If the current trends continue, by 2050 Illinois' population will have increased from 12.8 million in 2006, to over 19.9 million.1 Illinois residents currently have a per-capita, daily water usage of 141.7 gallons.2 This means that by 2050 human, water usage will exceed that of 2006 by over one billion gallons each day.

Particularly in the Chicago area, massive urban sprawl is making future water constraints more and more of a concern. By 2030, another 2 million people are expected to move to the greater Chicago area. Conversation has begun circulating on how water can be conserved to prepare for this inevitable growth.3 By 2050, population projections suggest an increase of 3.4 million residents in the area, which will increase Chicago's water demand by up to two-thirds.4 FAIR projects a population increase of nearly 1.3 million residents by 2025.

With many groundwater sources such as the Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer becoming severely depleted, it is probable that increased demand in the Chicago area will turn toward Lake Michigan.5 In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that Illinois could only divert up to 2.1 billion gallons each day from the Lake Michigan basin.6 However, this limit could provide an impetus for controversy as area populations continue to boom. Unfortunately, this additional thirst will come at a time when climate change and excessive drainage continue to threaten lake levels, which are currently near historic lows.7

A planning agency projects that eleven townships in five counties on the outer rim of Chicago will experience severe water shortages by 2020, a number that may double by 2030.8 Exacerbated by population growth, Illinois will be facing a water crunch in the near future.

Disappearing Open Space: The amount of developed land in Illinois increased by 760,800 acres from 1982 to 2007, growing at a pace of 29,040 acres per year over the last ten years of that period.9 Illinois lost 67,900 acres of prime farmland to development from 1987-1992, the fifth highest rate in the country, according to the American Farmland Trust. The loss accelerated to 160,900 acres from 1992-1997, a 137 percent increase. Much of the farmland loss is to lakefront development, housing, and new subdivisions.10

A study of urban sprawl between 1970 and 1990 that calculated the impact of population increase and per capita land use found that 307.3 square miles of additional land were consumed by urban sprawl in the Chicago-NW Indiana metropolitan area, and 5.3 percent of that sprawl was attributable to population increase. In the St. Louis metro area, which crosses into Missouri, sprawl consumed an additional 267.6 square miles and population increase accounted for 7.3 percent of the increase.11

"There is a lot of farmland conversion that has occurred in the state the last 10 to 15 years," says the supervisor the Illinois Department of Agriculture's office of farmland protection. "If the population continues to increase, our reliance on production agriculture will continue to increase, and we could see a crisis down the road."

Air Pollution: As population increases, pollution often rises along with it. Emissions from Illinois contribute more to global warming than releases from 99 developing countries combined, according to a study by the National Environmental Trust. Illinois discharged 58.6 million metric tons of carbon equivalent into the atmosphere in 1999, ranking seventh among all states for carbon dioxide emissions, blamed for global warming.12

Cook, Madison, and St. Clair counties all received a grade of "F" in the American Lung Association's 2010 assessment of high ozone days. Peoria, Randolph, and Lake Counties received a "D," and the rest were split between "B" and "C" marks.13

Solid Waste: Illinois generates 1.3 tons of solid waste per capita each year.14

Traffic: Traffic on highways in Illinois increased 23 percent between 1990 and 2008, further straining an already-congested road system. In 2010, 43 percent of Illinois' major urban highways were considered congested.15

The typical Chicago commuter lost 41 hours and burned 28 extra gallons of fuel because of traffic congestion in 2007, resulting in a total cost of about $4.2 billion. Commute times were extended by about 43 percent during the peak periods (6-9 am and 4-7 pm), the second-longest relative delay of any city.16 About 22 percent of Illinois commuters had a commute of 45 minutes or longer in 2008, which trailed only New York and Washington, D.C.17

Road maintenance has not fully kept up with vehicle traffic. One third (33%) of the state's major roads are considered to be in poor or mediocre condition, and one sixth (16%) of its bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The average Illinois driver pays an extra $292 in repair and operating costs each year due to the condition of the state's roads. 18

Schools: Public school enrollment in Illinois increased by about 101,000 students between 1998 and 2008. Over the same period, the number of students per teacher decreased from 16.5 to 14.4, outpacing the national decline of 1.4 students per teacher.19

Despite opening four new public schools in 2002, Chicago still has the same number of crowded schools as it did the previous year, due to rising enrollments. Funding for new construction is drying up because of a cap on local property taxes and limited state dollars. About 150 area schools are overcrowded.20

Crowded Housing: An estimated 120,089 of Illinois' 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, 29,601 units were severely crowded, with at least 1.5 occupants per room.21 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 Illinois, the shares are 21 percent of children in immigrant families are in crowded housing compared to 7 percent of those in native-headed households.22

Poverty: Illinois' immigrants are more likely to be poor than their native-born counterparts. In 2007, 12.6 percent of foreign-born households were below the poverty line, compared to 11.8 percent of native households. An additional 10.6 percent of the foreign-born and 7.3 percent of native households were not in poverty but had incomes less than 1.5 times the poverty level.23 23.4 percent of children in immigrant families were poor in 2006, compared to 16.0 percent of native children.24

  1. Jack Martin and Stanley Fogel. "Projecting the U.S. Population to 2050." FAIR. March 2006.
  2. U.S. Geological Survey. 2000.
  3. John Roszkowski. "Water conservation counters area's population growth." Lake Villa Review. May 15, 2008.
  4. Kahrin Deines. "Area's growth will be primed by water; report will lay out scenarios." Medill Reports. May 22, 2008.
  5. Jerry Dennis. "Water: Demand & Supply." Chicago Wilderness Magazine. December 2007.
  6. Kahrin Deines. "Area's growth will be primed by water; report will lay out scenarios." Medill Reports. May 22, 2008.
  7. Jerry Dennis. "Water: Demand & Supply." Chicago Wilderness Magazine. December 2007.
  8. "Table DP-1-4, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000," Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau.
  9. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, "Summary Report: 2007 National Resources Inventory."
  10. Illinois State Factsheet, Migration Information Source, Migration Policy Institute.
  11. Beck, Roy and Leon Kolankiewicz, "Weighing Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities," NumbersUSA, March 2001.
  12. Gary Wisby, "Illinois Emissions Top 99 Countries' Combined," Chicago Sun-Times, September 5, 2002.
  13. American Lung Association, "State of the Air 2010."
  14. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.
  15. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Illinois' Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  16. Texas Transportation Institute, "Urban Mobility Report 2009."
  17. American Community Survey, 2008 Estimates, Custom Data Table.
  18. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Illinois' Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  19. NEA, "Rankings and Estimates," 1999 and 2009 editions.
  20. Kate N. Grossman, "Number of Crowded Schools Stays Same," Chicago Sun-Times, October 10, 2002.
  21. American Community Survey, Three-Year Estimates 2006-2008. Data retrieved using ACS Custom Table tool.
  22. Kids Count Data Center, which used 2008 American Community Survey Data.
  23. Migration Information Source State Data (Migration Policy Institute)
  24. Urban Institute, Children of Immigrants Data Tool.