Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 3,814,820
Population (2000 CB est.) 3,450,654
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 213,284
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 131,747
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 5.6 %
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 3.6%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 68,357
Share Naturalized (2012) 32.0 %
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 41,123
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 2,849
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 85,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $465,245,736
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 4,232,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of Oklahoma in 2012 was 3,814,820 residents.

Between 2000 (population 3,450,654) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 29,728 residents. That was an annual average change of 0.8 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 3,145,585) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 30,507 residents. The annual average rate of change was 0.9 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 Oklahoma was about 213,284 persons in 2012. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 5.6 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 6,656 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 29,728  people. That is a 22.4  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 61.9 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 11.2 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 5,900 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 12,555 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 42.2 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 53.9 percent of Oklahoma's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 53.0 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in Oklahoma'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 7.4 percent to 9.7 percent. In 2000, 41.5 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 41.2 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 68.4 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 76.7 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 68,357 residents of Oklahoma, or 32.0 percent of the foreign-born population in Oklahoma, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 45,766 residents, or 34.7 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 Oklahoma's population resulting from net international migration has been about 10,630 people. It was 19.8 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 Oklahoma were 457 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 829 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 4,618 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 Oklahoma between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 138,178 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 Oklahoma was 10,643 (6,517 pre-1982 residents and 4,126 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 Oklahoma 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


Oklahoma has received 2,849 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 299 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

Oklahoma Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $204.10 43.9%
LEP educ. $41.10 8.8%
Medicaid+ $43.40 9.3%
SCHIP $9.80 2.1%
Justice $37.20 8.0%
Welfare+ $46.30 10.0%
General $82.80 17.8%
Total $465.20  
Tax receipts $22.60  
Net Cost $442.60  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of Oklahoma as of 2010 was about 85,000 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 Oklahoma 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 75,000 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 Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 37,122) was 95.6 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 104.4 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected Oklahoma's population in 2050 likely would be between 4,154,000 million and 4,232,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (3,768,000) 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 Oklahoma as 9,050 in 2013.

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

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

Immigration Impact


Traffic: Highway traffic in Oklahoma increased by 44 percent between 1990 and 2008, exceeding the national average. Nearly three-tenths (29%) of the state’s major urban highways are considered congested.1

The typical Oklahoma City commuter lost about 27 hours and 17 gallons of fuel due to congestion-related traffic delays in 2007. For Tulsa, the figures were 22 hours and 13 gallons of fuel, bringing the total annual cost of time and fuel lost due to congestion in Oklahoma to $449 million.2  About 9 percent of Oklahoma commuters had a commute of 45 minutes or longer in 2008.3

Unfortunately, road maintenance has not kept up with traffic volume in Oklahoma. More than one-third (35%) of its major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and 29 percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Motorists pay the cost of overdue road maintenance. The typical Oklahoma driver spends $425 per year on additional maintenance and operating costs due to road conditions, for a $978 million statewide total.4 Tulsa drivers pay $703 extra per year, fourth-highest among urban areas with more than 500,000 people and the highest cost outside of California. Oklahoma City was tenth at $631, and fourth among cities outside California.5

Disappearing open space: The amount of developed land in Oklahoma increased by 608,100 acres from 1982 to 2007, growing at a pace of 32,280 acres per year over the last ten years of that period.6

A study of urban sprawl between 1970 and 1990 that calculated the impact of population increase and per capita land use found that 307.7 square miles of additional land were consumed by urban sprawl in the Oklahoma metropolitan area, and 46.8 percent of that sprawl was attributable to population increase. In the Tulsa metro area sprawl consumed an additional 124.3 square miles and population increase accounted for 46.7 percent of the increase.7

Crowded housing: An estimated 33,541 of Oklahoma’s housing units were classified as crowded in 2008, defined as units with more than one occupant per room. This amounted to 2.4 percent of the state’s housing units. In addition, 7,924 units were severely crowded, with at least 1.5 occupants per room.8 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). In the state, 22 percent of children in immigrant families live in crowded housing, compared to just 10 percent of children with native-born parents.9

Air pollution: As population increases, pollution usually rises along with it.  Of the Oklahoma counties included in the American Lung Association’s 2010 assessment of high ozone risk, more than half received an "F," and no county earned better than a "C." Oklahoma, Tulsa, Canadian, and Cleveland Counties were among those given an "F."10

Poverty: Oklahoma’s immigrants are more likely to be poor than their native-born counterparts. In 2007, 21.2 percent of foreign-born households were below the poverty line, compared to 15.6 percent of native households. An additional 15.8 percent of the foreign-born and 10.8 percent of native households were not in poverty but had incomes less than 1.5 times the poverty level.11 36.6 percent of children in immigrant families were poor in 2006, compared to 22.8 percent of native children.12

Education: Public school enrollment in Oklahoma increased by about 16,000 students between 1998 and 2008. Over the same period, the number of students per teacher decreased from 15.5 to 15.3, compared to a nationwide decrease of 1.4 students per teacher.  The state’s student-teacher ratio ranks 34th in the U.S.13

Solid Waste: Oklahoma generates 1.28 tons of solid waste per capita each year.14 If this number is not reduced, projected population growth will increase the amount of solid waste generated in Oklahoma by more than 1.3 million tons per year by 2050.


  1. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Oklahoma’s Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  2. American Community Survey, 2008 Estimates, Custom Data Table.
  3. American Community Survey, 2008 Estimates, Custom Data Table.
  4. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Oklahoma’s Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  5. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Rough Roads Ahead," May 2009.
  6. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, "Summary Report: 2007 National Resources Inventory."
  7. Beck, Roy and Leon Kolankiewicz, "Weighing Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities," NumbersUSA, March 2001.
  8. American Community Survey, Three-Year Estimates 2006-2008. Data retrieved using ACS Custom Table tool.
  9. Kids Count Data Center, Kids Count Data Center, 2008 American Community Survey Data.
  10. American Lung Association, "State of the Air 2010."
  11. Migration Information Source State Data (Migration Policy Institute)
  12. Urban Institute, Children of Immigrants Data Tool.
  13. NEA, "Rankings and Estimates," 1999 and 2009 editions.
  14. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.


Other Resources  

State Local Reform Organizations

State Representatives Voting Record


Updated February 2012