Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 3,899,353
Population (2000 CB est.) 3,421,399
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 413,852
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 289,702
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 10.6 %
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 7.6%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 151,720
Share Naturalized (2012) 36.7 %
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 89,891
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 2,849
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 170,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $704,904,057
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 6,015,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of Oregon in 2012 was 3,899,353 residents.

Between 2000 (population 3,421,399) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 39,017 residents. That was an annual average change of 1.1 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 2,842,321) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 57,908 residents. The annual average rate of change was 1.9 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 Oregon was about 413,852 persons in 2012. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 10.6 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 10,015 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 39,017  people. That is a 26.0  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 42.9 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 21.2 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 9,755 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 19,870 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 50.9 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 36.1 percent of Oregon's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 50.0 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in Oregon'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 12.1 percent to 14.7 percent. In 2000, 48.6 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 40.5 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 58.4 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 61.0 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 151,720 residents of Oregon, or 36.7 percent of the foreign-born population in Oregon, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 97,381 residents, or 33.6 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 Oregon's population resulting from net international migration has been about 16,375 people. It was 22.1 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 Oregon were 372 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 1,759 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 8,307 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 Oregon between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 278,797 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 Oregon was 27,520 (4,240 pre-1982 residents and 23,280 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 Oregon 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


Oregon 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

Oregon Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $574.5 53.4%
LEP educ. $159.1 14.8%
Medicaid+ $103.3 9.6%
SCHIP $8.1 0.7%
Justice $139.6 13.4%
Welfare+ $12.8 1.2%
General $79.2 7.4%
Total $1,076.6  
Tax receipts $76.5  
Net Cost $1,000.1  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of Oregon as of 2010 was about 170,000 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 Oregon 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 160,000 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 Oregon 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 Oregon, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 65,395 ) was 149.2 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 106.9 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected Oregon's population in 2050 likely would be between 5,834,000 million and 6,015,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (5,001,000) 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 Oregon as 11,674 in 2013.

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

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

Immigration Impact

Sanctuary Policies


Oregon Revised Statutes §181.850 (2011)

  • “No law enforcement agency of the State of Oregon or of any political subdivision of the state shall use agency moneys, equipment or personnel for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.”
  • An agency can contact ICE in order to: (a) verify the immigration status of a person if the person is arrested for any criminal offense or (b) request criminal investigation information.

City or County


Resolution No. 2003-05 (February 19, 2003)

  • “The City of Ashland directs the Ashland Police Department…To continue to carry out investigations without regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender, economic status, marital status, citizenship status or disability, except when such factors are part of the description of a particular suspect, or an element of a state crime as provided in the Oregon Revised Statutes, and to refrain from participating in enforcement of federal immigration laws, which are the responsibility of the Immigration and Naturalization Service….”


Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

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


Resolution No. 03-01 (May 16, 2003)

  • “…no City employee or department [shall] violate…ORS 181.850, which generally prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from detecting or apprehending a person of foreign citizenship based only on violation of federal immigration laws. …”

Marion County

Administrative Policy: Role of Marion County in Relation to the Immigration and Naturalization Services (June 1997)

  • “County law enforcement entities including but not limited to the Sheriff’s Office and Juvenile Department will not use their resources and personnel to detect or apprehend persons solely for violation of immigration laws.”

Multnomah County

Resolution No. 2013-032 (April 4, 2013)

  • “The enforcement of federal civil immigration law is the responsibility of the federal government and not of county, city or state governments.”
  • The County will only comply with I-247 Immigration Detainers- Notice of Act requests for individuals who are: (1) charged with felonies, (2) charged with Class A- person misdemeanors, (3) when ICE can demonstrate through affidavit that an individual poses a threat to public safety based on previous, non immigration-related convictions or current charges.

Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

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


Resolution No. 36179 (October 29, 2003)

  • Portland affirms its and the state’s commitment to “...protecting our diverse immigrant population from undue scrutiny by prohibiting law enforcement from detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship residing in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.”

Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

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


Council Policy No. 9-A (December 15, 1997)

  • “City employees and representatives carry out their regular duties for the purpose of administering City services and programs and do not perform duties dictated by the INS or agents of the INS.”
  • “City employees and representatives may seek race, sex, color and national origin information on a voluntary basis, so long as the information is not used for the enforcement of immigration laws.”
  • “City employees and representatives will not use their resources and personnel to detect or apprehend persons whose only violation of law is illegally residing in the US.…”


Resolution No. 03-642-R (April 4, 2003)

  • “The City of Talent directs the Talent Police Department...to refrain from participating in enforcement of federal immigration laws, which are the responsibility of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.…”


Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

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

Population Profile

Oregon's battle against sprawl is well known, particularly in the Portland area. But with a 28 percent increase in Portland's population during the 1990s, growth has led to traffic congestion, longer commutes, and inflated home prices (which increased 44 percent in the 1990s).1

Environmental and Quality of Life Profile

Water: Between 2000 and 2006, Oregon's population rose by 8.2 percent, including a nearly one-fourth (24.2%) net increase in the immigrant population.2 By 2050, Oregon's population is projected to top 6 million, a 62.5 percent increase from its population in 2006.3 Oregon has a per-capita, water demand of 165 gallons each day.4 This means that by 2050 the public may demand up to 381.8 million gallons more per day than in 2006. Shrinking resources due to global warming, exacerbated by this increase in population may pose dire circumstances in the years ahead.

Particularly in areas such as the Rogue Basin, climate change threatens the current state of the water resources. Current projections suggest that temperatures may climb 15 degrees by 2080. In turn, this temperature elevation would mean diminishing mountain snowpacks and less water to sustain river and stream flows. Making matters worse, runoff will occur more rapidly and earlier in the year as snows melt, causing increased threat of floods. Followed later in the year by increased periods of drought and declining surface water levels.5

Water shortages may come to some areas of Oregon sooner than others. New analysis reveals that most towns in Yamhill County, a rapidly growing area, could face shortages by 2010. All water rights in the basin of Yamhill county's rivers and tributaries are fully appropriated during low flow periods, and groundwater has been steadily declining. Clearly, the water resources cannot keep pace with the area's growth. Already, several towns have faced mandatory water restrictions during dry spells.6

Traffic: Highway traffic in Oregon increased by 23 percent between 1990 and 2008. Nearly three in seven (42%) of the state's major urban highways are considered congested.7 As population growth put more traffic on the roads, the average commute for Oregon residents increased since the 1990s, from 20 minutes in 1990 to 21.9 minutes in 2005.8

The typical Portland commuter sat through about 37 hours of delays due to congestion in 2007, burning 26 extra gallons of gas and causing a total time and fuel loss of $712 million. Eugene commuters lost 11 hours and a total of $30 million in time and fuel. Drivers in the state's urban areas spent more than twice as much time in traffic delays in 2001 as they did in 1991.9 About 12 percent of Oregon commuters had a commute of 45 minutes or longer in 2008.10

Nearly one in five (19%) of the state's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and 23 percent of its bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Overdue road repairs cost the typical Oregon driver $173 per year in additional repairs and operating costs. 11

Disappearing open space: The amount of developed land in Oregon increased by 421,700 acres from 1982 to 2007, growing at a pace of 14,860 acres per year over the last ten years of that period.12 In December 2002, the Portland area's regional government voted to allow development on 18,600 acres of rural land in and around its suburbs.13

Portland, once a model for limiting urban growth, has been forced by a growing population to repeatedly expand its urban boundary, most recently urbanizing 200 acres in nearby Hillsboro, 370 acres in West Lynn, 520 acres bordering Forest Park, and 720 acres in Bethany (which is about half of its farmland).14 About eight acres in Portland were paved for development each day during the 1990s.15 Portland's population increase has forced more and more development of the area within the growth boundary, crowding current residents and eating up any pastoral areas.16

Crowded housing: An estimated 37,811 of Oregon's housing units were classified as crowded in 2008, defined as units with more than one occupant per room. This amounted to 2.6 percent of the state's housing units. In addition, 9,300 were severely crowded, with at least 1.5 occupants per room.17 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, 29 percent of children in immigrant families live in crowded housing, compared to just 10 percent of children with native-born parents.18

In areas with migrant farm workers, overcrowding housing is common, such as Woodburn, where eleven percent of the population live in crowded housing, and Gervais, where it's 16 percent. In Prescot, on the Columbia River west of Portland, 15 percent of residents live with one or more people to a room.19 They are followed by residents of Boardman in northeastern Oregon, where eleven percent of people double up.20

Sprawl: Oregon mayors have been fighting a state requirement that communities periodically plan for population growth in the next 20 years by designating new land for development, which they say facilitates population-driven sprawl.21 Due to that requirement, Portland's regional government agreed in December 2002 to the largest expansion of allowable development in its history—18,600 acres—simply to accommodate population growth anticipated over the next 20 years.22 Residents of Portland suburb Damascus fought unsuccessfully the proposal, which will urbanize over 10,000 acres in their area.23 In other communities, like Wilsonville, sprawl and its associated effects have become residents' principal complaints.24

A study of urban sprawl between 1970 and 1990 that calculated the impact of population increase and per capita land use found that 121.2 square miles of additional land were consumed by urban sprawl in the Portland land area, which crosses over into Vancouver, Washington, and 93.8 percent of that sprawl was attributable to population increase.25

Air pollution: As population increases, pollution usually rises along with it. Heavily populated Portland got a "D" in air quality on a Sierra Club evaluation of urban livability.26 The EPA says that, due to pollution from population-related sources like car exhaust, every resident of Oregon is exposed to elevated levels of air toxic pollutants.27 The counties surrounding Portland are now in the top five percent of U.S. counties with residents most likely to develop cancer linked to air toxins.28

Poverty: Oregon's immigrants are more likely to be poor than their native-born counterparts. In 2007, 17.3 percent of foreign-born households were below the poverty line, compared to 12.4 percent of native households. An additional 16.1 percent of the foreign-born and 8.7 percent of native households were not in poverty but had incomes less than 1.5 times the poverty level.29 30.4 percent of children in immigrant families were poor in 2006, compared to 14.7 percent of native children. 30

Education: Between 2000 and 2005 Oregon's K-12 student enrollment increased by over 7,000 students, and is projected to increase by an additional 23,000 students by the year 2015.31 Oregon's student-teacher ratio of 19.5 ranks 48th in the United States.32

In some school districts, like Portland's David Douglas district, two out of three new students are immigrants.33 In the Portland suburbs, some schools have been operating at as much as 114 percent of their capacity.34 Population growth forced Oregon City into a $67 million bond issue to fund the construction of a new high school and four new elementary schools.35 In Hillsboro where the district grew by 14 percent (2,200 students) in just five years, parents complain of children taught in stuffed schools, where classes are held on noisy stages, in makeshift library classrooms, and in cramped portables; physical education and music classes have dwindled to 20-minute periods, and where children begin eating lunch as early as 10:30 a.m. to fit in all the necessary lunch periods.36

Solid Waste: Oregon generates 1.16 tons of solid waste per capita each year.37 If this number does not decrease, population growth between 2006 and 2050 is projected to increase the state's solid waste generation by nearly 3 million tons per year.

Illegal Residents: In a month-long investigation of Portland's service industry in 2001, immigration agents reviewed paperwork for 3,306 employees and discovered that 25 percent were illegal aliens.38 Raids by federal government officials found hundreds of illegal aliens working in Oregon's service and tourist industries39 and involved in ID fraud,40 as well as immigrants charged with working to support terrorism here and abroad.41


  1. Tara Burghart, "Urban Planning, Oregon-Style, Gets Strong Support, Criticism," Associated Press, May 31, 2001.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau 2006.
  3. Jack Martin and Stanley Fogel, "Projecting the U.S. Population to 2050," FAIR, March 2006
  4. U.S. Geological Survey 2000.
  5. Paul Fattig, "The bad news? Climate change will bring floods, fires, droughts," Mail Tribune, June 29, 2008.
  6. U.S. Water News Online, "Towns in Oregon wine country area may face water shortages," April 2008
  7. The Road Information Project (TRIP), “Key Facts about Oregon's Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding,” May 2010.
  8. "Table DP-1-4, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 1990 and 2000," Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau. Selected Economic Characteris9tics: 2005 Data Set - 2005 American Community Survey, American Fact Finder, U.S. Census Bureau.
  9. Jeff Mapes, "Oregon Makes Gains but Problems Persist, Report Says," The Oregonian, March 16, 2003.
  10. American Community Survey, 2008 Estimates, Custom Data Table.
  11. The Road Information Project (TRIP), “Key Facts about Oregon's Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding,” May 2010.
  12. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, “Summary Report: 2007 National Resources Inventory.”
  13. Laura Oppenheimer, "Damascus Waits to See How Growth will Proceed," The Oregonian, March 31, 2003.
  14. Laura Oppenheimer, "Growth Boundary Move Draws Critics in Portland, Ore.," The Oregonian, February 19, 2003.
  15. Elizabeth Murtaugh, "Northwest Gets Mixed Reviews in Report on Regional Well-being," Associated Press, March 18, 2002.
  16. Laura Oppenheimer, "Housing Density Debate Hinges on Quality of Life Issues," The Oregonian, April 14, 2002. Steve Amick, "Growth in Canby Pushes the Last Horse Out of Town," The Oregonian, January 3, 2002.
  17. American Community Survey, Three-Year Estimates 2006-2008. Data retrieved using ACS Custom Table tool.
  18. Kids Count Data Center, Kids Count Data Center, 2008 American Community Survey Data.
  19. "Details of Oregon Life Seen in Census 2000 Data," Associated Press, May 14, 2002.
  20. Ibid
  21. Dana Tims, "West Linn Mayor Wants to Lead Statewide Reform of Growth Law," The Oregonian, December 12, 2002.
  22. Laura Oppenheimer, "Damascus Waits to See How Growth will Proceed," The Oregonian, March 31, 2003.
  23. Laura Oppenheimer, "Metro Hears Damascus Area Residents' Resistance," The Oregonian, October 11, 2002.
  24. Dana Tims, "Urban Growth Spurs Talk, No Consensus," The Oregonian, January 11, 2002.
  25. Beck, Roy and Leon Kolankiewicz, "Weighing Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities," NumbersUSA, March 2001.
  26. William McCall, "Sierra Club Gives Portland 'D' for Air, Public Transit Efforts," Associated Press, November 16, 2001.
  27. Andy Dworkin, "National Study Finds 'Air Toxics' in Northwest," The Oregonian, June 4, 2002.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Migration Information Source State Data (Migration Policy Institute)
  30. Urban Institute, Children of Immigrants Data Tool.
  31. "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. “Projections of Education Statistics to 2015,” National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.
  32. "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.
  33. Tracy Jan, "As Enrollment at Oregon Schools Declines, Local Districts Buck Trend," The Oregonian, October 31, 2002.
  34. "This Week's Question: How Crowded Is Too Crowded in a Classroom?," The Oregonian, October 27, 2001.
  35. Noelle Crombie, "New High School, Classrooms Come Off Drawing Board," The Oregonian, April 10, 2001
  36. Paige Parker, "Half of the Elementary Schools in the Sprawling Hillsboro School District Post Poor Performances," The Oregonian, April 17, 2001.
  37. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers
  38. Gillian Flaccus, "INS Audit Removes About 800 From Local Workforce," Associated Press, September 10, 2001.
  39. Ibid. Mike Cronin, "Mexican Workers Face INS, Uncertainty," Bend Bulletin, September 13, 2001.
  40. "Portland Man Arrested in Green Card Scam," Associated Press, February 28, 2003 "State Says Fire Crews Hired Improperly," Associated Press, March 17, 2002. "INS Breaks Up Fake Document Business," Associated Press, December 6, 2002
  41. Andrew Kramer, "FBI Arrests Four - Three in Portland - on Charges of Aiding al Qaeda," Associated Press, October 4, 2002.


Other Resources  

State Local Reform Organizations

State Representatives Voting Record


Updated December 2011