Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 4,601,893
Population (2000 CB est.) 4,468,976
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 168,152
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 115,885
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 3.7 %
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 2.6%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 68,053
Share Naturalized (2012) 40.5 %
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 34,848
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 5,943
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 60,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $223,757,726
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 4,737,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of Louisiana in 2012 was 4,601,893 residents.

Between 2000 (population 4,468,976) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 10,850 residents. That was an annual average change of 0.2 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 4,219,973) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 24,900 residents. The annual average rate of change was 0.6 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 Louisiana was about 168,152 persons in 2012. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 3.7 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 4,267 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 10,850  people. That is a 79.1  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 45.1 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 7.4 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 4,700 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 8,965 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 82.6 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 56.5 percent of Louisiana's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 37.0 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in Louisiana'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 9.2 percent to 8.4 percent. In 2000, 30.6 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 32.2 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 42.4 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 54.9 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 68,053 residents of Louisiana, or 40.5 percent of the foreign-born population in Louisiana, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 56,102 residents, or 48.4 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 Louisiana's population resulting from net international migration has been about 9,560 people. It was 29.0 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 Louisiana were 94 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 2,203 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 4,277 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 Louisiana between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 164,179 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 Louisiana was 2,899 (1,836 pre-1982 residents and 1,063 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 Louisiana 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


Louisiana has received 5,943 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 187 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

Louisiana Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $109.50 48.9%
LEP educ. $22.00 9.8%
Medicaid+ $17.50 7.8%
SCHIP $4.20 1.9%
Justice $19.20 8.6%
Welfare+ $18.40 8.2%
General $32.90 14.7%
Total $223.80  
Tax receipts $11.20  
Net Cost $212.60  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of Louisiana as of 2010 was about 60,000 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 Louisiana 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 65,000 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 Louisiana 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 Louisiana, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 13,093) was 189.6 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 91.3 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected Louisiana's population in 2050 likely would be between 4,690,000 million and 4,737,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (4,478,000) 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 Louisiana as 7,695 in 2013.

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

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

Immigration Impact

Sanctuary Policies

City or County

New Orleans

Press Release: Sheriff Gusman Revises ICE Policy (August 14, 2013)

  • “The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office shall decline all voluntary ICE detainer requests unless the individual’s charge is for one or more of the following offenses: First Degree Murder…; Second Degree Murder…; Aggravated Rape…; Aggravated Kidnapping…; Treason…; or Armed Robbery with the Use of a Firearm….”

Environmental and Quality of Life Profile

Water: Between 2000 and 2006, the foreign-born population of Louisiana increased by 8 percent while the native-born population decreased by 4.4 percent.1 According the U.S. Geological Survey, per-capita, water usage is 168.5 gallons per day.2 This means that the net increase of about 9,300 foreign-born residents between 2000 and 2006 has contributed approximately 1.6 million gallons of increased water demand each day.

Aggravating the problem, Louisiana is prone to drought. Currently, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, 63 percent of the state of Louisiana was abnormally dry, and 9.4 percent of the state is in moderate drought in 2008.3

In southeastern Louisiana water is drawn heavily from the Amite aquifer and the "2,800-foot " sand aquifer. In 2005, 18 million gallons of water were being drawn per day from the Amite aquifer and 32 million each day from the "2,800-foot " sand aquifer. Over the last twenty years, sharp declines in groundwater levels have been consistently noted. In some areas water levels have declined by forty feet. Exacerbated by population growth, Louisiana continues to tap a water resource that is running dry.

Traffic: Traffic on Louisiana highways increased by 21 percent between 1990 and 2008. In 2010, 43 percent of its major urban highways were considered congested.4 As population growth put more traffic on the roads, the average commute for Louisiana residents increased 15 percent during the 1990s, from 22 minutes to 26 minutes in 2000.5

New Orleans commuters lost about 20 hours each due to congestion in 2007, burning 12 gallons of gas per commuter and resulting in an estimated cost of $244 million.6 About 15 percent of Louisiana commuters had a commute of 45 minutes or longer in 2008.7

Louisiana's roads are among the worst in the nation, with 22 percent rated as being in poor condition and another 22 percent in mediocre condition.8 Motorists pay the price for poorly maintained roads in Louisiana, the typical driver pays an estimated additional $408 per year in maintenance and operational costs due to road conditions, for a statewide total of $1.2 billion.9

Crowded housing: An estimated 45,625 of Louisiana's housing units were classified as crowded in 2008, defined as units with more than one occupant per room. This amounted to 2.9 percent of the state's housing units. In addition, 10,658 units were severely crowded, with at least 1.5 occupants per room.10 12 percent of the state's children live in crowded housing.11 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).12

Disappearing open space: The amount of developed land in Louisiana increased by 630,700 acres from 1982 to 2007, growing at a pace of 26,810 acres per year over the last ten years of that period.13 In Baton Rouge, developers are now turning to 30-lot developments instead of the 300-lot developments common several years ago because there simply aren't any large enough tracts of land left to develop.14 53 percent of Louisiana's 64 percent have high-quality farmland in danger from development, according to American Farmland Trust.15

Sprawl: Rapid development and ground coverage in St. Tammany has led to increased problems with flooding because the water caused by the area's wet climate no longer has sufficient drainage.16 Mayors in East Baton Rouge, which in 2001 was $500 million behind in sewer projects and $1.5 million behind in needed road expansions, complain that population growth has outstripped the ability to pay for infrastructure upgrades.17 In 2002, growing concerns about sprawl and its encroachment on fragile wetlands drove St. Bernard to pass its first regulations to limit it.18 Jefferson is expected to have to spend up to $1 billion dollars to overhaul its sewer system to accommodate new growth.19

A study of urban sprawl between 1970 and 1990 that calculated the impact of population increase and per capita land use found that 100.9 square miles of additional land were consumed by urban sprawl in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area, and 48.8 percent of that sprawl was attributable to population increase. In the New Orleans metro area, sprawl consumed an additional 86.1 square miles and population increase accounted for 20.4 percent of the increase.20

Air pollution: As population increases, pollution usually rises along with it. In 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency rated Baton Rouge's air pollution "severe, " worsening from its rating of "serious " in 1999.21 In 2002, Louisiana ranked eleventh for toxic pollution released into the air, water, and ground.22

In 2010, 15 of the 16 Louisiana Parishes rated for frequency of high ozone days by the American Lung Association received an "F."23

Solid Waste: Louisiana generates 1.10 tons of solid waste per capita each year.24

Poverty: Louisiana is one of the few states in which immigrants are less likely to be poor than natives. 17.6 percent of the foreign-born households were below the poverty level in 2007, compared to 18.6 percent of native households. The trend shifts when those who are near poverty are included 11.7 percent of the foreign-born were not in poverty but had incomes less than 1.5 times the poverty level, versus 10.4 percent of native households. Louisiana is also one of three states in which native children are more likely to be poor than immigrant children. 21.5 percent of children in immigrant families were poor in 2006, compared to 26.5 percent of native children.25

Education: Between 1990 and 2000, Louisiana's elementary and high school enrollment increased 1 percent. In one Mandeville high school, enrollment grew 10 percent in a single year (2001 to 2002) and is now 54 percent over capacity, with 2,000 students in a facility designed for 1,300. Students have to share lockers and attend gym classes in the parking lot.26


  1. U.S. Census Bureau 2006.
  2. U.S. Geological Survey 2000.
  3. U.S. Drought Monitor. July 2008.
  4. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Louisiana's Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  5. "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.
  6. Texas Transportation Institute, "Urban Mobility Report 2009."
  7. American Community Survey, 2008 Estimates, Custom Data Table.
  8. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Rough Roads Ahead," May 2009.
  9. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Louisiana's Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  10. American Community Survey, Three-Year Estimates 2006-2008. Data retrieved using ACS Custom Table tool.
  11. Kids Count Data Center, which used 2008 American Community Survey Data.
  12. "Wisconsin Children in Immigrant Families," WisKids Count Issue Brief, Spring 2008. Cited 2006 ACS data.
  13. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, "Summary Report: 2007 National Resources Inventory."
  14. Chad Calder, "Residential and Commercial Construction Lead Area Economic Indicators, " Baton Rouge Advocate, April 27, 2003.
  15. "Farming on the Edge: Sprawling Development Threatens America's Farmland, " American Farmland Trust, 2002.
  16. Ann Barks, "Tammany is Growing, and So are Residents' Concerns, " New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 22, 2002.
  17. Amy Wold, "Parishes Jump in Population, " Baton Rouge Advocate, March 10, 2001.
  18. Karen Turni Bazile, "Parish May Increase Minimum Lot Size; Rules to Apply in Rural Areas, " New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 5, 2002.
  19. Aaron Kuriloff, "Small, Historic Towns Try to Manage Their Growing Pains, " New Orleans Times-Picayune, December 31, 2001.
  20. Manuel Torres, "Sewer Needs are Massive, Report Finds, " New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 19, 2002.
  21. Beck, Roy and Leon Kolankiewicz, "Weighing Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities, " NumbersUSA, March 2001.
  22. Mark Schleifstein, "Baton Rouge Air Quality is Rated 'Severe', " New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 28, 2003.
  23. Mike Dunne, "La. High in Release of Toxic Wastes, " Baton Rouge Advocate, May 24, 2002.
  24. American Lung Association, "State of the Air 2010."
  25. "Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005, " American Society of Civil Engineers.
  26. Urban Institute, Children of Immigrants Data Tool.
  27. Michelle Krupa, "Parents Seek Fix for Crowded Classrooms, " New Orleans Times-Picayune, December 7, 2002.


Other Resources  

State Local Reform Organizations

State Representatives Voting Record


Updated December 2011