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New Americans in Washington D.C.

D.C. ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in our Nation's Capital (Updated May 2014)

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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of the economy and electorate in Washington, D.C. More than 1 in 8 Washingtonians are immigrants (foreign-born), and more than a third of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for 10.5% of registered voters in the District. Immigrants are not only integral to the District’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 $4.5 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $2.8 billion and employed more than 19,000 people. At a time when the economy is still recovering, Washington, D.C. can ill-afford to alienate such a critical component of its labor force, tax base, and business community. 

Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Washington, D.C.’s population and electorate. 

  • The foreign-born share of Washington, D.C.’s population rose from 9.7% in 1990, to 12.9% in 2000, to 13.5% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Washington, D.C. was home to 83,599 immigrants in 2011.
  • 37.8% of immigrants (or 31,573 people) in Washington, D.C. were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 4.5% of the District’s population (or 25,000 people) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 10.5% (or 33,990) of registered voters in Washington, D.C. 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.

1 in 8 Washingtonians are Latino or Asian.

  • The Latino share of Washington, D.C.’s population grew from 5.4% in 1990, to 7.9% in 2000, to 9.5% (or 58,744 people) in 2011. The Asian share of the population grew from 1.8% in 1990, to 2.7% in 2000, to 3.6% (or 22,510 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos accounted for 3.6% (or 11,000) of Washington, D.C. voters in the 2008 elections, and Asians 1.6% (5,000) according to the U.S. Census Bureau
  • In Washington, D.C., 86.6% children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from The Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 90.3% of children in Latino families in Washington, D.C. were U.S. citizens. 

Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Washington, D.C.’s economy. 

  • The 2012 purchasing power of Latinos in Washington, D.C. totaled $2.6 billion—an increase of 444% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $1.9 billion—an increase of 730% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Washington, D.C.’s 3,428 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $975 million and employed 7,201 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The District’s 3,278 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $1.8 billion and employed 11,998 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners. 

Immigrants are essential to Washington, D.C.’s economy as workers and taxpayers. 

  • Immigrants comprised 16.8% of the District’s workforce in 2011 (or 59,303 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Immigrants accounted for 20% of total economic output in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area as of 2007 according to a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute.”
  • Immigrant households in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area contributed $9.8 billion in taxes in 2000, according to the Urban Institute. 

Unauthorized immigrants are integral to Washington, D.C.’s economy as workers and taxpayers. 

  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 6.1% of the District’s workforce (or 20,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Washington, D.C., the District would lose $1.1 billion in economic activity, $490.5 million in gross product, and approximately 5,400 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.
  • Unauthorized immigrants in Washington, D.C. paid $25.6 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $16.8 million in sales taxes, $5.5 million in state income taxes, and $3.3 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Washington, D.C. to have legal status, they would pay $32.6 million in state and local taxes, including $18.1 million in sales taxes, $11 million in state income taxes, and $3.6 million in property taxes.

Immigrants are integral to Washington, D.C.’s economy as students. 

  • Washington, D.C.’s 8,419 foreign students contributed $301.9 million to the District’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 Washington, D.C., 51.5% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 47.2% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 15.2% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 27.7% of noncitizens.
  • The number of immigrants in Washington, D.C. with a college degree increased by 45.4% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Washington, D.C., 90.8% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009.
  • The English proficiency rate among Latino children in Washington, D.C. was 83.9%, as of 2009.

Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File