Beth Werlin, Deputy Legal Director for the American Immigration Council, discusses the recent...
New Americans in Oklahoma
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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of the economy and population in Oklahoma. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 1 in 20 Oklahomans, and one-third of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for 3.3% of registered voters in the state. Immigrants are not only integral to the state’s economy as workers, but also account for billions of dollars in tax revenue and consumer purchasing power. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $10.1 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $3.5 billion and employed more than 24,000 people at last count. At a time when the economy is still recovering, Oklahoma can ill-afford to alienate such an important component of its labor force, tax base, and business community.
Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Oklahoma’s population and electorate.
- The foreign-born share of Oklahoma’s population rose from 2.1% in 1990, to 3.8% in 2000, to 5.5% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Oklahoma was home to 208,857 immigrants in 2011, which is more than the total population of Montgomery, Alabama.
- 33.7% of immigrants (or 70,407 people) in Oklahoma were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 2.0% of the state’s population (or 75,000 people) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- 3.3% (or 59,334) of registered voters in Oklahoma were “New Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965—according to an analysis of 2008 Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.
Nearly 1 in 9 Oklahomans are Latino or Asian.
- The Latino share of Oklahoma’s population grew from 2.7% in 1990, to 5.2% in 2000, to 9.2% (or 347,623 people) in 2011. The Asian share of the population grew from 1.0% in 1990, to 1.4% in 2000, to 1.7% (or 65,513 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Latinos accounted for 2.2% (or 33,000) of Oklahoma voters in the 2008 elections, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- In Oklahoma, 89.1% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
- In 2009, 94.2% of children in Asian families in Oklahoma were U.S. citizens, as were 92.7% of children in Latino families.
Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Oklahoma’s economy.
- The 2012 purchasing power of Latinos in Oklahoma totaled $7.2 billion—an increase of 907.4% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $2.9 billion—an increase of 587.3% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
- Oklahoma’s 7,663 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $1.7 billion and employed 8,940 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 6,736 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $1.8 billion and employed 15,673 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
Immigrants are integral to Oklahoma’s economy as workers and taxpayers.
- Immigrants comprised 7.4% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (or 135,162 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 3% of the state’s workforce (or 55,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- If one half of all the state’s immigrant labor force (roughly 50,000 people) was removed, Oklahoma’s economy would be reduced by 1.32% in the short run—a reduction of nearly $1.8 billion relative to 2006 production levels, according to a 2008 study by the Economic Impact Group.
- If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Oklahoma, the state would lose $580.3 million in economic activity, $257.8 million in gross state product, and approximately 4,680 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.
Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.
- Unauthorized immigrants in Oklahoma paid $70.7 million in state and local taxes in 2010, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, which includes $7.7 million in state income taxes, $7.1 million in property taxes, and $56 million in sales taxes.
- Were unauthorized immigrants in Oklahoma to have legal status, they would pay $84.5 million in state and local taxes, including $59.7 million in sales taxes, $17.2 million in state income taxes, and $7.6 million in property taxes.
Immigrants are integral to Oklahoma’s economy as students.
- Oklahoma’s 8,722 foreign students contributed $192.6 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2011-2012 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Naturalized citizens excel educationally.
- In Oklahoma, 31.7% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 13.7% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 22.1% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 50.6% of noncitizens.
- The number of immigrants in Oklahoma with a college degree increased by 57.3% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
- In Oklahoma, 85.7% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
- The English proficiency rate among Asian children in Oklahoma was 90.1%, while for Latino children it was 85.1%, as of 2009.
Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File