10 States Where the Number of Immigrants Is Growing Fastest

Immigrants at a migrant assistance center

Immigrants arrive to take part in an English as a Second Language class at a migrants assistance center in Stamford, Connecticut | John Moore/Getty Images

The United States is a nation of immigrants, but new arrivals to the country are more likely to flock to some states than others. The lion’s share of the 42 million immigrants in the U.S. live in California, Texas, New York, Florida, and New Jersey. In most other states, the foreign-born population is far smaller, numbering in the tens of thousands rather than the millions. But as the immigrant population grows — 1.4 million new immigrants arrived in the U.S. in 2014, an 11% increase over 2013 — more states are seeing the number of foreign-born residents rise, often by double-digit percentages.

In states with already large immigrant populations, the number of new immigrants is higher, but the relative increases are far less dramatic. California, which has more foreign-born residents than any other state, saw its immigrant population increase by a modest 5% between 2010 and 2015, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI). In North Dakota, Wyoming, and West Virginia, on the other hand, the immigrant population spiked, though these states still have relatively few immigrants overall.

Though immigration is controversial, evidence suggests our country’s newest residents are a boon to the economy overall. A recent, comprehensive report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found immigrants didn’t take jobs away from native-born workers or depress wages for most groups. Though immigration can be costly to local governments in the short-term, especially in terms of education, immigrants tend to pay back that investment, as children of immigrants grow up to become “among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the U.S. population, contributing more in taxes than either their parents or the rest of the native-born population,” according to the report.

Like it or not, immigration is changing the face and the economy of the entire U.S., even in states and cities that have previously had very small foreign-born populations. The MPI analyzed data on immigration to discover which states saw the most dramatic increases in non-native born populations, including naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, people in country on work or student visas, refugees and asylees, and those in country without legal status.

These 10 states saw the greatest percentage change in their immigrant populations between 2010 and 2015, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

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