Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 5,379,139
Population (2000 CB est.) 4,919,479
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 389,324
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 260,463
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 7.2 %
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 4.9%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 182,509
Share Naturalized (2012) 46.9 %
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 138,615
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 47,387
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 100,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $744,174,088
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 7,283,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of Minnesota in 2012 was 5,379,139 residents.

Between 2000 (population 4,919,479) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 37,523 residents. That was an annual average change of 0.7 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 4,375,099) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 54,438 residents. The annual average rate of change was 1.2 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 Minnesota was about 389,324 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 10,520 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 37,523  people. That is a 28.0  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 49.5 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 9,980 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 20,400 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 54.4 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 51.9 percent of Minnesota's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 54.5 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in Minnesota'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 8.5 percent to 10.9 percent. In 2000, 43 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 38.6 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 35.3 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 39.3 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 182,509 residents of Minnesota, or 46.9 percent of the foreign-born population in Minnesota, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 97,308 residents, or 37.4 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 Minnesota's population resulting from net international migration has been about 23,605 people. It was 33.3 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 Minnesota were 668 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 1,865 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 14,330 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 Minnesota between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 345,322 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 Minnesota was 1,961 (1,106 pre-1982 residents and 855 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 Minnesota 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


Minnesota has received 47,387 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 1,738 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

Minnesota Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $305.30 41.0%
LEP educ. $61.40 8.3%
Medicaid+ $70.70 9.5%
SCHIP $28.70 3.9%
Justice $62.80 8.4%
Welfare+ $77.20 10.4%
General $138.10 18.6%
Total $744.20  
Tax receipts $27.50  
Net Cost $716.70  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of Minnesota as of 2010 was about 100,000 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 Minnesota 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 85,000 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 Minnesota 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 Minnesota, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 69,095) was 151.4 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 99.1 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected Minnesota's population in 2050 likely would be between 7,092,000 million and 7,283,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (6,162,000) 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 Minnesota as 13,232 in 2013.

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

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

Immigration Impact

Sanctuary Policies

City or County


Minneapolis Code of Ordinances, Title 2, Chapter 19 (July 11, 2003)

  • “Other than complying with lawful subpoenas, city employees and representatives shall not use city resources or personnel solely for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is or may be being undocumented, being out of status, or illegally residing in the United States.”
  • “Where presentation of a Minnesota driver’s license is customarily accepted as adequate evidence of identity, presentation of a photo identity document issued by the person’s nation of origin…shall be accepted and shall not subject the person to a higher level of scrutiny or different treatment….”
  • “Public safety officials shall not undertake any law enforcement action for the purpose of detecting the presence of undocumented persons, or to verify immigration status, including but not limited to questioning any person or persons about their immigration status.”
  • “Public safety officials shall not question, arrest or detain any person for violations of federal civil immigration laws except when immigration status is an element of the crime or when enforcing 8 U.S.C. 1324(c).”

Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

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

St. Paul

St. Paul Administrative Code, Title III § 44 (May 5, 2004)

  • “…the city does not operate its programs for the purpose of enforcing federal immigration laws.”
  • “City employees shall only solicit immigration information or inquire about immigration status when specifically required to do so by law or program guidelines as a condition of eligibility for the service sought.”
  • “City employees and representatives shall not use city resources or personnel solely for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is or may be being undocumented, being out of status, or illegally residing in the United States.”
  • “Public safety officials may not undertake any law enforcement action for the sole purpose of detecting the presence of undocumented persons, or to verify immigration status, including but not limited to questioning any person or persons about their immigration status.”

Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

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

Environmental and Quality of Life Profile

Water: Between 2000 and 2006, Minnesota's foreign-born population increased by 30.2 percent.1 That compares with a 3.6 percent increase in the native-born population and that includes the children born to immigrants. When the U.S-born children of immigrants are included, immigration accounts for 54 percent of the state's overall growth during that time.2 By 2050 the state's population is expected to rise from 5.2 million in 2006 to 7.3 million.3 Minnesota has a daily, per-capita water demand of 101.6 gallons.4 This means that by 2050 public water usage will have increased by 213.4 million gallons each day.

Traffic: As population growth put more traffic on the roads, the average commute for Minnesota residents increased 15 percent during the 1990s, from 19 minutes in 1990 to 22 minutes in 2000. 5,6 and to 22.2 in 2005. 7 69% of Minnesota's major urban roads are congested and 25% of Minnesota's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Vehicle travel on Minnesota's highways increased 42% from 1990 to 2003. Driving on roads in need of repair costs Minnesota motorists $690 million a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs --- $227 per motorist. Congestion in the Minneapolis - St. Paul metropolitan area costs commuters $740 per person per year in excess fuel and lost time. 8

Travelers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area experienced an annual delay of 43 hours in 2003. 9 11 percent of commuters in Minnesota have a commute that is 45 minutes or more. 10

The worsening of traffic congestion in Twin Cities area over the last decade ranks second only to Atlanta. A survey showed that 81 percent of Twin Cities-area residents believe congestion is getting worse. "We feel population growth on the roads at rush hour," says Tom Gillaspy, the state demographer, "just as we see it when we see farm fields going to housing." 11

Sprawl: While throughout much of the 20th century, Minnesotans moved from rural areas to cities, the 21st century seems to be reversing the pattern. More and more Minnesotans are moving to the countryside that encircles the Twin Cities, devouring open space and creating suburban sprawl. In rural McLeod and Rice counties, new housing units rose from 25,000 in the 1980s to 40,000 in the 1990s.12

Much of the land being lost is Minnesota's best farmland. Every year, Minnesota loses an average of 40,000 acres of prime farmland per year to development and suburban sprawl.13

Disappearing Open Space: A study of urban sprawl between 1970 and 1990 that calculated the impact of population increase and per capita land use found that 341.6 square miles of additional land were consumed by urban sprawl in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, and 51.3 percent of that sprawl was attributable to population increase. 14

Health Care: Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis is also seeing the impact of newcomers. "It's changed the demographics of the population we see," said administrator Jeff Spartz. Of the 400,000 patients served last year, 102,000 required interpreters. That represented a 25 percent increase in such services over 1999, Spartz said." 15

Minnesota hospitals are struggling to pay for the basic health care of the swelling immigrant population, many of whom lack health insurance. "The end result is pressure on our hospitals and pressure on property taxpayers," Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin says. McLaughlin and Ramsey County Commissioner Sue Haigh are say that the cost of medical care for uninsured immigrants is too high for local government without federal help and have called on the federal government to shift the financial burden away from local hospitals.16

Crowded Housing: In 2005, over 24,000 Minnesota households are defined as crowded or severely crowded by housing authorities. 17 Studies show that a rise in crowded housing often correlates with an increase in the number of foreign-born.18,19

Affordable Housing: Thousands of residents in the Twin Cities are struggling to find and keep affordable housing in a market so tight that only 1.5 percent of rental units are open at any one time. More than one-third of Twin Cities renters cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment.20

Housing officials say that while the problem is not limited to the metropolitan area, it's especially severe in the Twin Cities area, which is short 30,000 to 40,000 affordable housing units.21 A Metropolitan Council demographer says there's a gap of 75,000 between the number of new housing units the metro area's cities are planning to allow and what will be needed over the next three decades.22

Air Pollution: Levels of ground-level ozone, the primary ingredient in smog, are increasing in the Twin Cities and are likely to get even worse as population and traffic increase.23

Poverty: While poverty is dropping in Minnesota, it's rising among the state's immigrants. 18.5 percent of immigrants have incomes below the federal threshold in 2005, an increase of 14.3 percent since 2000. Among non-citizens the poverty rate climbs to 22.8 percent. 24

Solid Waste: Minnesota generates 1 ton of solid waste per capita. 25

Schools: Between 1990 and 2000, Minnesota's elementary and high school enrollment increased by 20 percent 26, and enrollment is projected to grow by an additional 26,000 students by 2015. 27

Illegal Residents

"The number of illegal aliens in the state of Minnesota has increased substantially over a disconcertingly short period of time," wrote INS district director Curtis Aljets in a letter to Sen. Rod Grams. "This increase has the net effect of (1) keeping the wage rate below that considered by some to be a ‘living wage,' (2) extensively burdening the state infrastructure (i.e., schools, medical care, law enforcement), and (3) contributing to unsafe working conditions."

"Minnesota is the exception to most other states in the nation by opting to not participate in the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program; this leaves the state vulnerable to the use of counterfeit documents used by illegal aliens to obtain welfare benefits, as well as employment," noted Aljets. "Recently arrested aliens indicate during interview that they entered the United States destined for Minnesota for these economic reasons."


  1. U.S. Census Bureau 2006.
  2. Jack Martin. "Issue Brief: Estimation of Foreign Born Birthrate." FAIR. 2008.
  3. Jack Martin and Stanley Fogel. "Projecting the U.S. Population to 2050." FAIR. March 2006.
  4. U.S. Geological Survey 2000.
  5. "Table DP-1-4, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000," Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. "Table DP-1-4, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 1990," 1990 Census, 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 2005 Urban Mobility Report", Texas Transportation Institute
  10. "U.S. Population 2007 Data Sheet," Population Reference Bureau.
  11. David Peterson and Greg Gordon, "Good Times, With Growing Pains," Star Tribune, December 31, 2000.
  12. David Peterson, "Outward Bound," Star Tribune, November 24, 2001.
  13. "Senate Approach Would Speed Payments to Minnesota Farmers for Farmland Conservation," Environmental Working Group.
  14. Beck, Roy and Leon Kolankiewicz, "Weighing Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities," NumbersUSA, March 2001.
  15. Duchesne Paul Drew, "From Many Lands to Minnesota," Star Tribune, January 23, 2001.
  16. Shira Kantor, "Twin Cities Urge U.S. Aid for Immigrant Medical Costs," Star Tribune, June 13, 2002.
  17. Selected Housing Characteristics: 2005 Data Set- 2005 American Community Survey, American Fact Finder, U.S. Census Bureau.
  18. Haya El Nasser, "U.S. Neighborhoods Grow More Crowded," USA Today, July 7, 2002.
  19. Randy Capps, "Hardship Among Children of Immigrants: Findings from the 1999 National Survey of America's Families," Urban Institute, 2001.
  20. Kristin Gustafson, "Lack of Affordable Housing Takes a Toll on St. Paul, Minn—Area Middle Class," St.Paul Pioneer Press, December 27, 2000.
  21. Ibid.
  22. David Peterson, op. cit.
  23. Dennis Lien, "Ground-Level Ozone Worsens in St. Paul, Minn., Area," St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 1, 2002
  24. "Minnesota State Factsheet," Migration Information Source, Migration Policy Institute.
  25. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.
  26. Table DP-1-4, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 1990 and 2000, Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau.
  27. Projections of Education Statistics to 2015, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.


Other Resources  

State Local Reform Organizations

State Representatives Voting Record


Updated February 2012