Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 26,059,203
Population (2000 CB est.) 20,851,820
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 4,269,693
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 2,899,642
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 16.4 %
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 11.7%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 1,436,948
Share Naturalized (2012) 33.7 %
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 855,289
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 83,179
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 1,810,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $8,878,402,789
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 42,766,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of Texas in 2012 was 26,059,203 residents.

Between 2000 (population 20,851,820) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 425,092 residents. That was an annual average change of 1.8 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 16,986,510) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 386,531 residents. The annual average rate of change was 2.1 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 Texas was about 4,269,693 persons in 2012. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 16.4 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 138,246 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 425,092  people. That is a 32.5  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 47.2 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 32.8 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 127,365 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 239,205 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 56.3 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 42.5 percent of Texas's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 46.1 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in Texas'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 31.2 percent to 35.2 percent. In 2000, 44.4 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 39.9 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 84.6 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 86.0 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 1,436,948 residents of Texas, or 33.7 percent of the foreign-born population in Texas, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 914,326 residents, or 31.5 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 Texas's population resulting from net international migration has been about 164,170 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 Texas were 495 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 15,568 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 92,597 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 Texas between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 2,853,517 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 Texas was 445,850 (308,478 pre-1982 residents and 137,372 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 Texas 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


Texas has received 83,179 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 5,923 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

Texas Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $5,089.00 57.3%
LEP educ. $1,023.40 11.5%
Medicaid+ $1,167.50 13.1%
SCHIP $250.70 2.8%
Justice $727.90 8.2%
Welfare+ $212.90 2.4%
General $381.20 4.3%
Total $8,878.40  
Tax receipts $489.70  
Net Cost $8,388.70  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of Texas as of 2010 was about 1,810,000 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 Texas was 1,830,000 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 1,650,000 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 Texas 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 Texas, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 726,823) was 131.0 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 121.5 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected Texas's population in 2050 likely would be between 41,098,000 million and 42,766,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (32,950,000) 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 Texas as 62,923 in 2013.

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

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

Immigration Impact

Sanctuary Policies


82nd Session- State Legislative Update (April 6, 2011) [Pg 97 of PDF]

  • “…the Texas Department of Public Safety- a state agency- probably comes closest to being a sanctuary agency because it has a policy that it will not engage in enforcement of federal immigration statutes.”

City or County


Austin City Code Article 1 § 2-8-1

  • “Services funded by funds appropriated by the council shall be provided without regard to a recipient’s immigration status.”

Resolution (January 30, 1997) [Item 33]

  • The City of Austin “…will not discriminate or deny city services on the basis of a person’s immigration status.”
  • “…declares the City of Austin to be a ‘Safety Zone’ where all persons are treated equally, with respect and dignity regardless of immigration status.”

Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

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

Dallas County

Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

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


Houston Police Department Immigration Policy

  • “HPD will only contact ICE when a person is confirmed to have a deportation warrant or a notice from ICE that they are a previously deported felon.”
  • “HPD officers are not authorized to arrest or detain a person solely on a belief that the person is in the country illegally. Officers are authorized to arrest and detain a person whom they have a reasonable suspicion to believe has committed a criminal violation.”
  • “Houston police officers are prohibited from inquiring into a person’s citizenship status simply to determine if the person is in the country illegally. Furthermore, HPD officers are not authorized to arrest or detain a person solely on a belief that the person is in the country illegally.”


Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

  • Laredo 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: Williamson County is predicting a 13 billion-gallon deficit by 2050. The Texas Water Development Board estimates that over the next 50 years, almost 900 cities will either have to drastically reduce water consumption or find new sources to sustain themselves during a drought.1

Water is already a scarce resource in Texas and the increased demand generated by population growth is exacerbating the problem. By 2010,over ten percent of the water needs in urban areas will not be met during times of water shortages.2 El Paso, San Antonio, and Albuquerque could run out of water in ten to 20 years.3 Increased demand for municipal and industrial water use often means buying up and drying out irrigated farmlands - leaving farmers and ranchers without water. As the Texas Agricultural and Natural Resources Summit noted,"As our population increases, water use for municipal purposes will dramatically increase and water for agricultural irrigation will be reduced. Unfortunately, our water resources will stay the same or decline."4

Population growth has taken a toll on the Rio Grande, which is no longer strong enough to reach the sea. So much of the Rio Grande River is being used to accommodate population growth that Larry McKinney of the Texas Parks Wildlife Department commented,"It's hardly even a river anymore. It's more a managed irrigation ditch."5

As more land is paved over for streets and parking lots, water is prevented from sinking into the soil and replenishing groundwater; Houston is estimated to have lost between 12.8 billion and 29.8 billion gallons of water from 1982 to 1997 as a result.6

Traffic: Highways in Texas experienced a 47 percent increase in traffic between 1990 and 2008. Nearly half (47%) of the state's major urban highways are considered congested.7 About 15 percent of Texas commuters had a commute of 45 minutes or longer in 2008.8

Texas has four of the 25 most congested urban areas in the U.S. in terms of wasted fuel. In 2007. Houston commuters lost 56 hours and 40 gallons of fuel sitting in traffic. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington commuters lost 53 hours and 36 gallons of fuel. They ranked 4th and 6th nationally among large metropolitan areas. San Antonio commuters spent an extra 38 hours on travel and burned an extra 27 gallons of fuel. The numbers were similar in Austin, where 39 hours and 27 gallons of fuel per commuter were lost.9

The effects of traffic congestion had smaller but significant effects on residents of other urban areas as well. In El Paso, whose urban area stretches into New Mexico, the typical commuter lost 19 hours and 14 gallons in 2007. Laredo commuters lost 15 hours and 8 gallons; in Beaumont, the figures were 11 hours and 7 gallons; in Corpus Christi, 9 hours and 5 gallons; and in Brownsville, 8 hours and 5 gallons. The total cost of time and fuel losses to Texas commuters in these urban areas was $6.7 billion in 2007, $2.8 billion of which was in Dallas and another $2.5 billion in Houston.10

Traffic in Austin is expected to be worse than current Los Angeles traffic by 2025.11 Texas traffic is growing so quickly that even if public transit use were to double, the gain would be canceled out by population growth in as little as three months, according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation.12

Unfortunately, road maintenance has been unable to keep up with increased traffic volume. Nearly one-third (32%) of the state's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and 18 percent of its bridges are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Drivers pay the price of overdue road maintenance. The typical Texas driver pays an additional $343 each year in repair and operating costs due to road conditions.13

Disappearing Open Space: The amount of developed land in Texas increased by 3,442,600 acres from 1982 to 2007, growing at a pace of 174,570 acres per year over the last ten years of that period.14

Only 10 to 15 percent of the Cross Timbers forest remains.15 More than 60 percent of bottomland hardwoods and 50 percent of the state's original 1.2 million acres of coastal wetlands have been destroyed."16 Texas lost 2,151,000 acres of forest land between 1989 and 1999.17

Crowded Housing: An estimated 388,913 of Texas' housing units were classified as crowded in 2008, defined as units with more than one occupant per room. This amounted to 4.7 percent of the state's housing units. In addition, 93,793 were severely crowded, with at least 1.5 occupants per room. Per housing unit, Texas' rate of overcrowding was more than 150 percent of the national average and third overall, trailing only California and Hawaii.18 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, 28 percent of children in immigrant families live in crowded housing, compared to just 12 percent of children with native-born parents.19

Texas has the three metropolitan areas (Laredo, Dumas, and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission) with the highest rates of crowded housing nationwide, among metropolitan areas with 20,000 people or more. Laredo and Dumas are the only two metro areas in the country in which more than 14 percent of housing units are considered crowded. Eagle Pass (#5 nationally), Raymondville (#8), Rio Grande City-Roma (#12), and Brownsville-Harlingen (#13) all had by-unit crowding rates of over 10 percent. Uvalde, Mount Pleasant, Beeville, Bay City, Alice, and Del Rio are also in the top 50 nationwide, and Uvalde has the second-highest rate of severe crowding. In all, Texas has 22 of the 100 worst-afflicted cities in the nation and 45 of the top 200.20

Sprawl: Texas has lost more prime agricultural acres to development than any other state.21 Texas lost a total of 1.2 million agricultural acres to development between 1992 and 1997, almost double the rate of loss during the previous ten years.22 The vast expanses between Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston are filling in so quickly with suburbs and sprawl that they may soon become a single metropolitan area.23

Houston's urban forest declined dramatically from 1972 to 1999, depriving the area of $55 million annually in benefits such as reduced air pollution and enhanced flood control. Land with heavy tree canopy (having tree cover of 50 percent or more) declined to 26 percent of the region, from 31 percent.24

A study of urban sprawl between 1970 and 1990 that calculated the impact of population increase and per capita land use found that 187.4 square miles of additional land were consumed by urban sprawl in the Austin metropolitan area, and 65.1 percent of that sprawl was attributable to population increase. In the Corpus Christi metro area sprawl consumed an additional 25.2 square miles and population increase accounted for 100 percent of the increase. Urban sprawl increased by 372.4 squares miles in Dallas-Ft. Worth, and 100 percent of the sprawl was attributable to population growth. In El Paso, 101 square miles of growth was 63 percent attributable to population growth, 215.1 square miles of growth was 56.2 percent attributable to population growth in San Antonio, 638.7 square miles of growth was 70.1 percent attributably to population growth in Houston, and 91.6 square miles of population growth in McAllen-Edinburgh-Mission are area was 79.4 percent attributable to population growth.25

Border Issues: Texas's more than 1,800 colonias — unincorporated subdivisions along the Texas-Mexico border, often without basic water and sewer systems, electricity, paved roads, and safe housing — are home to 400,000 people.26 The poverty rate of the 14 counties along the border was 34 percent — double the statewide poverty rate of 17 percent.27 Brownsville's Cameron Park, home to a large population of illegal aliens, is the poorest community in the U.S.28

Air Quality: Texas consumes the fifth-most energy per capita in the U.S. Its rate is nearly 50 percent higher than the national average.29

More than two-thirds of the Texas counties assessed by the American Lung Association in 2010 for risk of high ozone exposure received a grade of "F," including Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Tarrant counties.30

Solid Waste: Texas generates 1.31 tons of solid waste per capita each year.31 If this rate does not change, projected population growth will add about 32 million tons of solid waste to the state's annual total between 2008 and 2050.

Poverty: Texas' immigrants are more likely to be poor than their native-born counterparts. In 2007, 22.2 percent of foreign-born households were below the poverty line, compared to 15.1 percent of native households. An additional 16.3 percent of the foreign-born and 9.5 percent of native households were not in poverty but had incomes less than 1.5 times the poverty level.32 Nearly two-fifths (39.6%) of children in immigrant families were poor in 2006, compared to 22.8 percent of native children.33

Immigration and School Overcrowding: Between 1990 and 2009, public school enrollment in Texas increased by 1,566,113 students, or 46.3 percent.34 Enrollment is projected to grow by an additional 1,020,770 students between 2009 and 2018.35 Texas' student-teacher ratio of 15 ranks 29th in the U.S.36

The resulting teacher shortage is becoming so acute that one-quarter of all new Texas teachers are not fully certified in the field they were hired to teach. In Austin, portable classrooms account for about 30 percent of the district's elementary classrooms.37

Many school districts, including Dallas and Houston, the state's largest, exceed the state's student-teacher ratio law.38 Texas will need to build two new schools a week to keep up with enrollment increases.39

Illegal Residents

El Paso County spent $13 million to jail 14,800 illegal aliens in 2000 but only received $1.1 million in compensation from the federal government.40

Border communities spend about $108 million a year on undocumented immigrants, according to a study by the U.S.-Mexico Border Counties Coalition. Most of that went toward jailing immigrants, but Texas border counties paid more than $2.5 million for the costs of providing emergency care, autopsies, and burials.41


  1. Maeve Reston,"Shortages Looming in Some Districts," Austin American-Statesman, August 17,2000.
  2. Monica Wolfson ,"Water Problems in Texas," Scripps Howard News Service, February 25,2002.
  3. Patrick Barta,"Surf and Turf: Battle Brews Over Water Realignment," Wall Street Journal ,October 8,1997.
  4. Timothy Egan,"Near Vast Bodies of Water, Land Lies Parched" New York Times, August 12, 2001.
  5. "Water in Texas," Texas Agricultural and Natural Resources Summit Initiative, November 1996.
  6. Mike Snyder,"Cities Losing Water to Sprawl," The Houston Chronicle, August 29,2002.
  7. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Texas' Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  8. American Community Survey, 2008 Estimates, Custom Data Table.
  9. Texas Transportation Institute, "Urban Mobility Report 2009."
  10. Texas Transportation Institute, "Urban Mobility Report 2009."
  11. Josh Shaffer and Ellen Schroeder,"As Development Spreads, Open Land is Disappearing in Texas," Dallas Morning News, March 18,2002.
  12. "Environment and Natural Resources: Trends and Implications," Texas Agricultural and Natural Resources Summit Initiative, November 1996.
  13. The Road Information Project (TRIP), "Key Facts about Texas' Surface Transportation System and Federal Funding," May 2010.
  14. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, "Summary Report: 2007 National Resources Inventory."
  15. Randy Capps,"Hardship among Children of Immigrants: Finding from the 1999 National Survey of America's Families," Urban Institute, 2001.
  16. "Texas Leads The U.S. In Ag Land Loss," American Farmland Trust.
  17. Ibid
  18. American Community Survey, Three-Year Estimates 2006-2008. Data retrieved using ACS Custom Table tool.
  19. Kids Count Data Center, Kids Count Data Center, 2008 American Community Survey Data.
  20. American Community Survey, Three-Year Estimates 2006-2008. Data retrieved using ACS Custom Table tool.
  21. "Texas Leads The U.S. In Ag Land Loss," American Farmland Trust.
  22. Ibid
  23. Patrick Barta,"A New Way of Looking at Texas: One Big City," Texas Journal ,November 11,1998.
  24. Bill Dawson,"City's Tree Canopy is Getting Thinner," The Houston Chronicle, December 13,2000.
  25. Beck, Roy and Leon Kolankiewicz,"Weighing Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities," NumbersUSA, March 2001.
  26. Alison Gregor,"Colonia Residents Getting Lon Overdue Services," San Antonio Express-News, January 27,2002.
  27. Lisa Falkenberg,"Comptroller Zeros-in on Ills of Region Along Texas-Mexico Border," Associated Press ,March 27,2001.
  28. Carlton Stowers,"Hope in Hell: Cameron Park, Texas, is the Poorest Town in the U.S.A.," Dallas Observer, July 11,2002.
  29. Energy Information Administration, "State Ranking 7. Total Energy Consumption Per Capita, 2008," released July 22, 2010.
  30. American Lung Association, "State of the Air 2010."
  31. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers
  32. Migration Information Source State Data (Migration Policy Institute)
  33. Urban Institute, Children of Immigrants Data Tool.
  34. "Table 4. Actual and projected numbers for enrollment in grades PK12 in public elementary and secondary schools, by region and state: Fall 2000 through fall 2018," National Center for Education Statistics, Department of Education. Accessed August 2010.
  35. "Table 34. Enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by state or jurisdiction: Selected years, fall 1990 through fall 2009," Digest of Education Statistics, Department of Education.
  36. "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.
  37. "For Kids, Everything's Bigger in Texas," Center for Public Policy Priorities, May 22, 2001.
  38. Thomas Hargrove,"Teaching Without a License, a Growing American Trend," Scripps Howard News Service, August 21, 2001.
  39. Dallas, Houston Have Most Crowded Classrooms in State," Associated Press, July 30, 2002.
  40. "Federal Government Makes $1.1 Million Payment to County for Jail Costs," Associated Press, November 1, 2001.
  41. Dane Schiller,"$50 Million Proposed for Border Costs," San Antonio Express-News, February 8, 2001.


Other Resources  

State Local Reform Organizations

State Representatives Voting Record


Updated June 2011