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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily

New Americans In The Grand Canyon State

by Mary Giovagnoli et. al of the Immigration Policy Center

The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in Arizona.

Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Arizona’s population and electorate.

  • The foreign-born share of Arizona’s population rose from 7.6% in 1990, to 12.8% in 2000, to 15.6% in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Arizona was home to 991,584 immigrants in 2007, which is more than the population of San Jose, California.
  • 29.7% of immigrants (or 294,541 people) in Arizona were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2007—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • 10.6% (or 252,108) of all registered voters in Arizona 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 2006 Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.

Nearly One-Third of Arizonans are Latino or Asian.

  • The Latino share of Arizona’s population grew from 18.8% in 1990, to 25.3% in 2000, to 29.7% (or 1,882,610 people) in 2007.  The Asian share of the population grew from 1.4%  in 1990, to 1.8% in 2000, to 2.4% (or 152,130 people) in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos comprised 11.7% (or 291,000) of Arizona voters in the 2008 elections, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Immigrant, Latino, and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens-of-thousands of jobs to Arizona’s economy.

  • The 2004 consumer spending power of immigrant-headed households in Arizona totaled $10.5 billion, according to a 2008 study by the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona.  This spending:
  • Supported approximately 66,500 full-time jobs.
  • Accounted for $10.2 billion in state economic output.
  • Generated tax revenues of roughly $776 million, consisting of $362 million in sales taxes, $328 million in business taxes, and $85 million in personal taxes.
    • The 2008 purchasing power of Arizona’s Latinos totaled $31.3 billion—an increase of 472.9% since 1990.  Asian buying power totaled $5.8 billion—an increase of 664.2% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Arizona.
    • Arizona’s 35,104 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $4.3 billion and employed 39,363 people in 2002, the last year for which data is available.  The state’s 10,215 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.4 billion and employed 24,405 people in 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

Immigrants are integral to Arizona’s economy as workers.

  • Immigrants comprised 19.3% of the state’s workforce in 2007 (or 586,663 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 9.8% of the state’s workforce (or 300,000 workers) in 2008, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • The total economic output attributable to Arizona’s immigrant workers was $44 billion in 2004, which sustained roughly 400,000 full-time jobs, according to a 2008 study by the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy.
  • Immigrant workers contributed $2.4 billion in state tax revenue in 2004, consisting of $1 billion in sales taxes, $967 million in business taxes, and $367 million in personal taxes, according to the same study.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arizona, the state would lose $26.4 billion in expenditures, $11.7 billion in economic output, and approximately 140,324 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

Naturalized Citizens Excel Educationally.

  • In Arizona, 24.5% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2007 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 13.1% of noncitizens.  At the same time, only 26.5% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 50.7% of noncitizens.
  •  The number of immigrants in Arizona with a college degree increased by 79.0% between 2000 and 2007, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Arizona, 71.2% of all children between the ages of 5 and 17 in families that spoke a language other than English at home also spoke English “very well” as of 2007.


About The Author

Mary Giovagnoli is the Director of the Immigration Policy Center. Prior to IPC, Mary served as Senior Director of Policy for the National Immigration Forum and practiced law as an attorney with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security—serving first as a trial attorney and associate general counsel with the INS, and, following the creation of DHS, as an associate chief counsel for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Mary specialized in asylum and refugee law, focusing on the impact of general immigration laws on asylees. In 2005, Mary became the senior advisor to the Director of Congressional Relations at USCIS. She was also awarded a Congressional Fellowship from USCIS to serve for a year in Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s office where she worked on comprehensive immigration reform and refugee issues. Mary attended Drake University, graduating summa cum laude with a major in speech communication. She received a master’s degree in rhetoric and completed additional graduate coursework in rhetoric at the University of Wisconsin, before receiving a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She spent more than ten years teaching public speaking, argumentation and debate, and parliamentary procedure while pursuing her education.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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