Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 9,883,360
Population (2000 CB est.) 9,938,444
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 607,319
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 523,589
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 6.1 %
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 5.3%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 303,447
Share Naturalized (2012) 50.0 %
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 193,875
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 40,502
Illegal Alien Population (2011 FAIR est.) 115,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $928,677,050
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 12,128,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of Michigan in 2012 was 9,883,360 residents.

Between 2000 (population 9,938,444) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was -4,497 residents. That was an annual average change of -0.1 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 9,295,297) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 64,315 residents. The annual average rate of change was 0.7 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 Michigan was about 607,319 persons in 2012. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 6.1 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 6,835 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about -4,497  people. That is a -152.0  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 16.0 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 12.2 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 14,300 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 21,135 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly -470.0 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 47.4 percent of Michigan's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 44.9 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in Michigan'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 8.4 percent to 9.4 percent. In 2000, 37.7 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 35.3 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 32.4 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 32.1 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 303,447 residents of Michigan, or 50.0 percent of the foreign-born population in Michigan, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 239,955 residents, or 45.8 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 Michigan's population resulting from net international migration has been about 34,700 people. It was 946.0 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 Michigan were 87 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 9,755 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 18,257 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 Michigan between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 642,639 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 Michigan was 6,668 (2,298 pre-1982 residents and 4,370 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 Michigan 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


Michigan has received 40,502 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 3,594 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

Michigan Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $314.10 33.8%
LEP educ. $63.20 6.8%
Medicaid+ $62.40 6.7%
SCHIP $25.20 2.7%
Justice $66.00 7.1%
Welfare+ $142.60 15.4%
General $255.30 27.5%
Total $928.70  
Tax receipts $32.30  
Net Cost $896.40  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of Michigan as of 2010 was about 115,000 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 Michigan 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 150,000 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 Michigan 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 Michigan, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 63,211) was 142.1 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 96.9 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected Michigan's population in 2050 likely would be between 11,834,000 million and 12,128,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (10,499,000) 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 Michigan as 26,930 in 2013.

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

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

Immigration Impact

Sanctuary Policies

City or County

Ann Arbor

Resolution (July 16, 2003)

  • “…the Ann Arbor City Council, as a matter of public policy, directs the Ann Arbor Chief of Police, to the extent permitted by law, to continue to limit local enforcement actions with respect to immigration matters to penal violations of federal immigration law (as opposed to administrative violations) except in cases where the Chief of Police determines there is a legitimate public safety concern and in such public safety instances, to report the situation to the City Council no later than 60 days after the incident.”


Municipal Code, Chapter 27, Art 9, §§ 27-9-4 & 27-9-5 (May 9, 2007)

  • “A public servant, who is a police officer shall not solicit information concerning immigration status for the purpose of ascertaining a person’s compliance with federal immigration law” (EXCEPT when assisting federal law enforcement in the investigation of a criminal offense or when relevant to the investigation/prosecution of a criminal offense).
  • “A public servant…shall not solicit information concerning immigration status from a person who is seeking police services, or is a victim, or is a witness.”

Resolution (November 6, 2002)

  • The City of Detroit Police Department is directed to refrain from enforcing federal immigration laws.


Resolution No. 022 (February 2, 2004)

  • Encourages Lansing Police Department to “refrain from stopping drivers or pedestrians to scrutinize identification documents or commence an investigation or surveillance without particularized suspicion of criminal activity or civil infractions, or as a necessary part of protecting public safety.”
  • Prohibits the use of the City of Lansing’s resources or institutions for the enforcement of federal immigration matters except when such enforcement would further local law enforcement goals.

Population Profile

In some cities in Michigan, 20 percent of the population is now foreign-born.1 Due to heavy immigration, hospitals, senior care centers, and courthouses can't keep up with the demand for translators for immigrants wanting services.2 In metropolitan Detroit, the number of people with limited English proficiency doubled in the 1990s to 62,000 in 2000.3

Environmental and Quality of Life Profile

Education: Berrien, Livingston, and Monroe counties all have badly overcrowded schools and have struggled with bond issues to fund repairs on the overtaxed school buildings.4 Of Detroit's suburban school districts, 37 out of 88 had double-digit enrollment growth between 1992 and 2000; Walled Lake District, for examples, has built six new schools and expanded every existing one twice over the last decade and expects to add an additional 4,000 students over the next 15 years.5 The growth in the foreign-born population puts special strains on schools with significant numbers of limited-English-proficient students; in Dearborn schools, for example, one of out every three students is has limited English proficiency.6 Michigan's student-teacher ratio of 17.4 ranks 44th in the U.S. 7

Water: Even at the center of the Great Lakes basin, the state of Michigan has been forced to deal with water issues as a result of a rising population. Massive urban sprawl in the Detroit area has magnified the task of providing enough water to slake the public's growing thirst. As a result, prices have begun to sky-rocket.

By 2050, Michigan's population is expected to rise from 10.1 million to over 12.1 million.15 Michigan currently has a per-capita water usage of 115 gallons per day.8 This means that by 2050, an additional 233 million gallons of water may be needed each day.

This year water rates will rise an average 8.5 percent in Detroit's suburbs and 6.3 percent in the city. With sewer rates also rising, the combined rates will leap 7.2 percent in the suburbs and 8.8 percent for Detroit customers. These hikes come on top of similar leaps in price last year, "when suburban customers faced a 3.9 percent combined increase, while Detroiters felt a 9.3 percent hike," said George Ellenwood, spokesman of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.9

The city water department claims that it must raise rates to update the system, whose operating costs for a year are estimated at $341 million. Ellenwood said that the system is in the midst of a five-year, $3 billion capital improvement, which is needed to consolidate water service to all of the outlying communities.10

Many impoverished city residents were unable to pay the higher water prices. "Water service was cut off to more than 40,000 Detroit residences last year, making those homes uninhabitable.11 This escalating cost of water undoubtedly contributed to Michigan's current rank of seventh among states for the highest number of home foreclosures. Detroit ranks sixth among cities in the same category.12

Additionally, Michigan and other neighboring states have been forced to begin defending the Great Lake waters around them, as these resources have been eyed greedily by other parts of the country, which face water shortages. "The Great Lakes are our Grand Canyon. It's our resource to protect, it's the backbone of the region," said Joel Brammeier, vice president for policy at the Alliance for the Great Lakes. Brammeier continued to profess his fear of "a thousand straws sipping into the lake." "We don't want to go there," he added "because that could have an impact."13

Traffic: As population growth put more traffic on the roads, the average commute for Michigan residents increased seven percent during the 1990s, from 21 minutes to 23 minutes in 2000.14,15 29% of Michigan's major urban roads are congested and 38% of Michigan's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Vehicle travel on Michigan's highways increased 24% from 1990 to 2003. Driving on roads in need of repair costs Michigan motorists $2.1 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs — $294 per motorist. 16

Congestion in the Detroit metropolitan area costs commuters $939 per person per year in excess fuel and lost time, and congestion in the Grand Rapids area costs commuters $360 per person per year in excess fuel and lost time.17 The annual delay of travelers in Detroit was 57 hours in 2003 (ranking 7th in the U.S.), and the annual delay in the Toledo, OH-MI area was 12 hours. 18 13 percent of commuters in Michigan have a commute that is 45 minutes or more. 19

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, clogged roadways in southeast Michigan are damaging the economy of the state.20 According to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, traffic problems will worsen severely over the next 30 years as the population in some area communities swells by over 40 percent. 21 One civil commented that "Roads are so bad; visitors to the area have joked about 'accidentally renting a car with square tires' on local radio stations." 22

Disappearing open space: Each year, Michigan loses 72,800 acres of open space and farmland due to development.23 The amount of land developed in metro Detroit increase by nearly 30 percent between 1982 and 1997. The areas around the Great Lakes have suffered a 50 percent loss of coastal wetlands due to development.24

Between 1.5 and 2 million acres of land will be converted to commercial, residential, and industrial land by the year 2020. 10% of Michigan's land is currently developed, but built of developed areas are projected to increase by 178% by 2040. Forest loss is expected to be the greatest in southern Michigan, where 13% may be gone by 2020 and 25% lost to development by 2040. Decreases in 17 species of Michigan birds have been attributed to deforestation in Michigan. 25

Michigan averages a loss of approximately 38,900 acres of farmland per year due to development and low density fragmentation. Michigan ranks 9th in the top 10 states for farmland loss due to development, according to the American Farmland Trust. 26

Crowded housing: Over 60,000 Michigan households were defined as crowded or severely crowded in 2005. 27 Studies show that a rise in crowded housing often correlates with an increase in the number of foreign-born.28,29 Michigan housing inspectors have had to close down employer-provided housing with as many as 26 immigrant men living together in one apartment and using one bathroom.30

Sprawl: According to a report from the Michigan Environmental Council, urban sprawl and decay are threatening native habitats and air and water, and the state's trends in land-use are among the worst in the region.31 Sprawl has become such an issue in Michigan that the issue is credited with the election of new Governor Jennifer Grahholm, who has sworn to stop its spread.32 State Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema says, "Land use is one of the top issues confronting the state. Uncontrolled growth has huge fiscal impacts in new highways, new schools, and new water pipes." 33

Air pollution: As population increases, pollution usually rises along with it. The Sierra Club graded Michigan's major metropolitan areas like Detroit and Grand Rapids with a D-minus for smog and auto pollution driven by sprawl.34 The EPA estimates that several Michigan areas will not meet its air quality standards within the 2004 deadline, including Flint-Saginaw, metro Detroit. 35

19 of Michigan's 83 counties received a grade of "F" from the American Lung Association's "State of the Air 2005" report. 36 In 2001 Michigan ranked ninth in the nation for enegy consumption, and this large demand has led to the burning of fossil fuels for energy. The burning of fossil fuels contributes to air and water pollution, acid rain, and climate change. Coal fired power plants are responsible for the majority of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide releases, which has the adverse effects of asthma and other health problems for residents. 37

Poverty: 16.2 percent of immigrants in Michigan have incomes below the poverty level, and increase of 41 percent since 2000. Among non-citizens, the poverty rate climbs to 20.3 percent. 38 Detroit, a magnet for immigration, has the fourth highest poverty rate among large U.S. cities.39 Large-scale immigration tends to increase the gap between rich and poor; between 1990 and 2000, income disparity grew in 56 of the state's 83 counties, and by 14 percent in Michigan's Cheboygan County, 11 percent in Luce County, and 11 percent in Alcona County.40

Solid Waste: Michigan generates 1.68 tons of solid waste per capita. 41


  1. Joseph Altman, "Hamtramck, Highland Park: So Close Yet So Different," Associated Press, April 17, 2001.
  2. John Flesher, "Michigan Slowly Preparing to Deal with Spanish Speakers," Associated Press, July 13, 2002.
  3. "English-Limited Residents Increase in Michigan," Associated Press, October 2, 2002.
  4. Alexandra R. Moses, "Challenges in the Classroom; Overcrowded schools Put Strain on Teachers, Facilities," Associated Press, October 21, 2001.
  5. "Student Population Booming in Detroit-Area Districts," Associated Press, April 30, 2001.
  6. Brad Heath, "More in Metro Detroit Unable to Speak English," Detroit News, October 2, 2002.
  7. "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
  8. Jack Martin and Stanley Fogel. "Predicting the U.S. Population to 2050." FAIR. March 2006.
  9. U.S. Geological Survey 2000.
  10. Christina Stolarz, Robert Snell and Christine MacDonald, "Water, Sewer Rates to Rise," Detroit News, May 7, 2008.
  11. David Josar, Jim Lynch and Christine Ferretti, "Metro Detroit Water Rates to Soar," Detroit News, December 11, 2007.
  12. Cheryl LaBash, "Cynthia McKinney Supports Fight for Water," Workers World, May 15, 2008.
  13. Greta Guest, "Detroit Area's Housing Market Shows More Signs of Life," Detroit Free Press, April 29, 2008.
  14. Tim Jones, "Midwest's Message: Hands off Our Lakes," Chicago Tribune, May 27, 2008.
  15. "Table DP-1-4, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000," Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau
  16. "Table DP-1-4, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 1990," 1990 Census, U.S. Census Bureau.
  17. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.
  18. Ibid
  19. "The 2005 Urban Mobility Report", Texas Transportation Institute.
  20. "U.S. Population 2007 Data Sheet," Population Reference Bureau.
  21. Kathleen Gray, "Michigan Transportation Official Says Clogged Roads Are Hurting Economy," Detroit Free Press, October 31, 2001.
  22. George Hunter, "Growth Trend Project for Newer Communities," Detroit News, September 25, 2001.
  23. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.
  24. "State Rankings by Acreage and Rate of Non-Federal Land Developed," Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture
  25. Michael Kilian, op.cit
  26. "U.S. State Reports on Population and the Environment: Michigan," Center for Environment and Population.
  27. Ibid
  28. Selected Housing Characteristics: 2005 Data Set - 2005 American Community Survey, American Fact Finder, U.S. Census Bureau.
  29. Haya El Nasser, "U.S. Neighborhoods Grow More Crowded," USA Today, July 7, 2002.
  30. Randy Capps, "Hardship Among Children of Immigrants: Findings from the 1999 National Survey of America's Families," Urban Institute, 2001.
  31. Sally Tato, "Pontiac, Mich., Migrant Workers Get New Lodgings," Detroit Free Press, August 1, 2002.
  32. Malcolm Johnson, "Environmental report grades states on environmental records," Associated Press, April 11, 2002.
  33. Keith Scheieder, "Michigan New Leader in U.S. Movement to Tame Sprawl," Grand Lakes Bulletin News Service, February 9, 2003.
  34. "Environmental Group Flunks Michigan Cities," Malcolm Johnson, Associated Press, November 13, 2001.
  35. "Some Michigan Counties May Not Meet Air Quality Standards," Associated Press, April 8, 2002.
  36. State of the Air 2005: Michigan", American Lung Association.
  37. "U.S. State Reports on Population and the Environment: Michigan," Center for Environment and Population.
  38. "Michigan State Factsheet," Migration Information Source, Migration Policy Institute.
  39. Shawn Windsor, "Census Finds Michigan Felt 1990s Boom; Poverty Declined," Detroit Free Press, June 3, 2002.
  40. James Prichard, "Gap Between Michigan's Rich and Poor Widens," Associated Press, September 9, 2002.
  41. 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