New York


Immigration Facts
Summary Demographic State Data (and Source)
Population (2012 CB est.) 19,570,261
Population (2000 CB est.) 18,976,457
Foreign-Born Population (2012 CB est.) 4,424,370
Foreign-Born Population (2000 CB est.) 3,868,133
Share Foreign-Born (2012) 22.6 %
Share Foreign-Born (2000) 19.8%
Naturalized U.S. Citizens (2012 CB est.): 2,340,833
Share Naturalized (2012) 52.9 %
Legal Immigrant Admission (DHS 2001 – 2012) 1,317,126
Refugee Admission (HHS 2000 – 2012) 127,341
Illegal Alien Population (2010 FAIR est.) 750,000
Costs of Illegal Aliens (2009 FAIR) $9,478,686,489
Projected 2050 Population (2006 FAIR) 26,157,000

State Population

According to the Census Bureau, the population of New York in 2012 was 19,570,261 residents.

Between 2000 (population 18,976,457) and 2012, the state's average annual population change was 48,474 residents. That was an annual average change of 0.3 percent. The comparable national annual rate of change was 0.9 percent.

Between 1990 (population 17,990,455) and 2000, the state's annual average population change was 98,600 residents. The annual average rate of change was 0.5 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 New York was about 4,424,370 persons in 2012. This estimate meant a foreign-born population share of 22.6 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 45,405 people, compared to the state's annual average population change of about 48,474  people. That is a 93.7  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 14.4 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 45.2 percent share of the state's current births is large enough to account for about 110,365 births a year. Combining the average increase in the foreign-born population and estimated immigrant births suggests that immigration may account for about 155,775 persons added to the state's population annually, i.e., nearly 321.4 percent of the state's overall population increase.

As of 2012 about 37.4 percent of New York's foreign-born population had arrived in the state since 2000. This compares with the national average 40.9 percent. In 2000, 40.4 percent of the state's foreign-born population that had arrived since the previous Census.

Foreign-Born Characteristics

An indicator of the change in New York'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 28 percent to 30.4 percent. In 2000, 46.6 percent of those persons in also said they spoke English less than very well. In the 2012 estimate, the share was 44.1 percent that spoke English less than very well. In 2012 Spanish speakers were 46.0 percent of those who spoke other than English at home, and 50.1 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 2,340,833 residents of New York, or 52.9 percent of the foreign-born population in New York, were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 1,783,744 residents, or 46.1 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 New York's population resulting from net international migration has been about 184,065 people. It was 215.4 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 New York were 74 percent above admissions just after adoption of the current immigration system in 1965. During the 1965 to 1969 period, annual admissions averaged about 84,970 persons. During the most recent five years, annual admissions averaged about 148,066 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 New York between fiscal years 1965 and 2012 has been 5,650,782 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 New York was 171,200 (118,327 pre-1982 residents and 52,873 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 New York 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 then select the desired year, click Legal Permanent Residents, data and then select "supplemental table 1."

Chart of Immigrant Admission by Fiscal Year


New York has received 127,341 refugees over the most recent ten fiscal years including 3,528 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

New York Fiscal Costs
Due to Illegal Aliens
           ($M) (Pct.)
K-12 educ. $4,879.40 51.5%
LEP educ. $946.30 10.0%
Medicaid+ $675.20 7.1%
SCHIP $281.60 3.0%
Justice $865.30 9.1%
Welfare+ $648.20 6.8%
General $1,160.30 12.2%
Total $9,478.70  
Tax receipts $191.90  
Net Cost $9,286.80  
Source: "The State Cost Studies"

FAIR Estimate - FAIR estimates the illegal alien population of New York as of 2010 was about 750,000 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 New York was 580,000 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 625,000 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 New York 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 New York, LEP public school enrollment in 2010 ( 237,634) was 103.9 percent of LEP enrollment a decade earlier. By contrast, overall K-12 enrollment in the state was 97.0 percent of enrollment a decade earlier.

Population Projection

FAIR projected New York's population in 2050 likely would be between 24,502,000 million and 26,157,000 million with current levels of immigration. Alternatively, the population could be lower (17,649,000) 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 New York as 88,250 in 2013.

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

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

Immigration Impact

Sanctuary Policies

City or County


Resolution No. 54.52.09R (May 18, 2009)

  • “…when an immigrant living, visiting and/or working in the City of Albany is not posing a threat to the community, the City of Albany Common Council calls on all state, federal and local political leaders and agencies to: 1) Refrain from all unnecessary measures to jail, detain or deport documented and undocumented immigrants and their families living in the City of Albany; 2) Instruct public safety personnel to refrain from asking people their immigration status, which is a federal matter; 3) Support a transparent and equitable legal due process leading to citizenship for all immigrants living in our city; 4) Provide equitable language access to all city offices and services; and 5) Support a welcoming and compassionate environment for immigrants and their families within our city and its institutions.”

New York City

Executive Order No. 124 (August 7, 1989)

  • “No City officer or employee shall transmit information respecting any alien to federal immigration authorities unless (1) such officer’s or employee’s agency is required by law to disclose information respecting such alien, or (2) such agency has been authorized, in writing, by the alien, or (3) such alien is suspected by such agency of engaging in criminal activity….”
  • “Any service provided by a City agency shall be made available to all aliens who are otherwise eligible for such service unless such agency is required by law to deny eligibility for such service to aliens….”

Executive Order No. 41 (September 17, 2003)

  • “No City officer or employee shall disclose confidential information, unless…in the case of information relating to immigration status, (i) the individual to whom such information pertains is suspected by such officer or employee or such officer’s or employee’s agency of engaging in illegal activity, other than mere status as an undocumented alien or (ii) the dissemination of such information is necessary to apprehend a person suspected of engaging in illegal activity, other than mere status as an undocumented alien or (iii) such disclosure is necessary in furtherance of an investigation of potential terrorist activity.”
  • “A City officer or employee, other than law enforcement officers, shall not inquire about a person’s immigration status unless: (1) Such person’s immigration status is necessary for the determination of program, service or benefit eligibility or the provision of City services; or (2) Such officer or employee is required by law to inquire about such person’s immigration status.”
  • “Law enforcement officers shall not inquire about a person’s immigration status unless investigating illegal activity other than mere status as an undocumented alien….It shall be the policy of the Police Department not to inquire about the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses, or others who call or approach the police seeking assistance.”

Local Law 62 [INT 0656-2011] (November 22, 2011)

Local Law 021 [INT 0982-2012] (March 18, 2013)

  • The New York city department of correction and Police Department “shall not honor a civil immigration detainer by: (1) holding an individual beyond the time when such individual would otherwise be released from the department’s custody, except for such reasonable time as is necessary to conduct the search specified in paragraph two of this subdivision, or (2) notifying federal immigration authorities of such individual’s release.” This will not apply when: a search results in the discovery that the individual “…(a) has been convicted of a crime, (b) is a defendant in a pending criminal case; (c) has an outstanding criminal warrant in the state of New York or another jurisdiction, (d) is identified as a gang member, (e) is identified as a possible match in the terrorist screening database” or if the search results in the discovery that the individual has an outstanding warrant of removal issued pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 241.2, or has previously been subject to a final order of removal pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 1241.1.

Amicus Brief (March 23, 2012)

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


Resolution No. 37-R (September 10, 2003)

  • “…the City of Syracuse: Calls on the Police Department of the City of Syracuse to recognize that the enforcement of federal immigration laws is a function of federal law enforcement authorities, and to therefore refrain from participating in the enforcement of these laws except when specifically requested by federal officials in relation to particularized suspicion of criminal activity….”


Water: By 2050 the state's population is expected to rise from 19.3 million in 2006 to 26.2 million.1 The state currently has a daily, per-capita water demand of 135.4 gallons.2 The projected population increase implies that by 2050 public water usage may increase by 934.3 million gallons each day.

Traffic: As population growth put more traffic on the roads, the average commute for residents increased to an average of 31.2 minutes in 2005. 3 34% of New York's major urban roads are congested, and 35% of New York's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Vehicle travel on New York's highways increased 26% from 1990 to 2003. Driving on roads in need of repair costs motorists $3.2 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs — $285 per motorist. Congestion in the Albany area costs commuters $208 per person per year, $182 per person in Buffalo per person per year, $893 per person in New York City per person per year, and $103 person per year in Rochester in excess fuel and lost time.4

In the New York-Newark area travelers experience an annual delay of 49 hours, and an annual delay of 7 hours in Rochester. 26 percent of commuters have a commute that is 45 minutes or longer, a figure that ranks 1st in the U.S.5

Disappearing open space: Long Island used to have 151,000 acres of farmland; now only 34,000 acres remain. By 2010 as much as three-fourths of that will be gone.6

A study of urban sprawl between 1970 and 1990 that calculated the impact of population increase and per capita land use found that 58.2 square miles of additional land were consumed by urban sprawl in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan area, and 13.9 percent of that sprawl was attributable to population increase. In the Syracuse metro area sprawl consumed an additional 37.4 square miles and population increase accounted for 10.1 percent of the increase.7

Crowded housing: Studies show that a rise in crowded housing often correlates with an increase in the number of foreign-born.8,9 Throughout the state over 303,000 households were defined as crowded or severely crowded housing in 2005.10

Solid Waste: generates 1.29 tons of solid waste per capita. 11

Air Quality: 19 of New York's 62 counties received a grade of "F" from the American Lung Association in their "State of the Air 2005" report. 5 other counties received a grade of "C". 12

Health Care: The New York Court of Appeals ruled in 2001 that the state must finance health coverage for legal immigrants. Officials say this will cost taxpayers at least $200 million in extra Medicaid costs.13


Immigrant Settlement Immigrant admissions between 1991 and 2000 totaled 1.3 million, an annual average of nearly 134,000. (This does not reflect the full impact of immigration on New York, as it only includes immigrants who went straight to upon first entering the country).


Between 1990 and 2000, New York's public school enrollment increased 14 percent.

31 percent of school-aged children in New York have immigrant parents.14 Seven percent of New York City students immigrated to the U.S. in the past three years. In Queens, schools are scrambling for space for 30,000 additional students. "That's almost exclusively driven by immigration," according to Harold Levy, New York City's school chancellor.15

As fast as new schools are built, enrollment increases fill them up. New York City estimated it would be 22,000 students over capacity during the 2002 school year.16 Over 1,600 classes in 400 public schools there violate city guidelines for overcrowding.17 Many of the areas most affected by overcrowding are those that have experienced a large influx of immigrants in recent years.18

"With too many students and too few classrooms, the principal and teachers at PS 112 in Long Island City make do," reports Newsday. "The gym teacher shares his gymnasium with therapists for special-education students, so there isn't enough space for basketball games. Upstairs, fifth-graders use a former boys' shower as a storage room and hang their coats on the shower knobs. It would be shocking, if only it weren't so commonplace in Queens, which has the most crowded schools in New York City, if not the nation. Queens needs another 30,000 new seats just to handle current students — before expected hikes in enrollment".19

More than 11,100 city classrooms are overstuffed -- with 10,000 of them in high schools — a new teachers union survey shows. Queens' high schools, where overcrowding has been a chronic problem, were the most packed on average. The union found 4,490 of Queens' high school classes had more than 34 students — the cap outlined in the union's contract with the city. 20

In the Orchard Park School District, some classes are held in school ticket booth and custodial closets.21


The bulk of the state's illegal aliens live in New York City, which has one of the country's highest concentrations of illegal residents. Social service agencies there say they are seeing an increase of illegal aliens seeking help because they are homeless. 22


  1. Jack Martin and Stanley Fogel. "Projecting the U.S. Population to 2050." FAIR. March 2006.
  2. U.S. Geological Survey 2000.
  3. Selected Economic Characteristics: 2005 Data Set- 2005 American Community Survey, American Fact Finder, U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers
  5. "The 2005 Urban Mobility Report", Texas Transportation Institute.
  6. "U.S. Population 2007 Data Sheet," Population Reference Bureau.
  7. Richard Amper, "Development, Planning Threaten Open Space" Newsday, August 23, 2002.
  8. Haya El Nasser, "U.S. Neighborhoods Grow More Crowded" USA Today, July 7, 2002.
  9. Randy Capps, "Hardship among Children of Immigrants: Finding from the 1999 National Survey of America's Families," Urban Institute, 2001.
  10. Selected Housing Characteristics: 2005 Data Set - 2005 American Community Survey, American Fact Finder, U.S. Census Bureau.
  11. "Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.
  12. "State of the Air 2005: New York", American Lung Association.
  13. Michael Gormley, "State May Face Greater Cost Through Immigrant Health Care Ruling" Associated Press, June 12, 2001.
  14. "Check Points," Urban Institute,, September 2,2000.
  15. Charisse Jones, "New-Timers' Lives Reviving Old Cities" USA Today, April 20, 2001.
  16. Carl Campanile, "Classroom Crush is Easing a Little" New York Post, August 15, 2002.
  17. Carl Campanile and Clemente Lisi, "City Students are Forced to Cram" New York Post, February 20, 2001.
  18. ibid.
  19. Jessica Kowal, "Overcrowding Tests Schools" Newsday, February 17,2001.
  20. "Report Card for America's Infrastructure 2005," American Society of Civil Engineers.
  21. Karen Robinson, "Growth Puts School District, Planners in a Bind," Buffalo News, October 12, 2001.
  22. Judith Messina, "Life in the Margins" Crain's New York Business, July 16, 2001.


Other Resources  

State Local Reform Organizations

State Representatives Voting Record


Updated December 2011