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New Americans In The Green Mountain State

by Mary Giovagnoli et. al of the Immigration Policy Center

The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in Vermont

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

  • The foreign-born share of Vermont’s population rose from 3.1% in 1990 to 3.5% in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Vermont was home to 21,410 immigrants in 2007.
  • 56.0% of immigrants (or 11,999 people) in Vermont were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2007—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • 4.3% (or 14,818) of registered voters in Vermont 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.

Roughly 2.5% Vermonters are Latino or Asian.

  • The Latino share of Vermont’s population grew from 0.7% in 1990, to 0.9% in 2000, to 1.3% (or 8,076 people) in 2007.  The Asian share of the population grew from 0.6% in 1990, to 0.9% in 2000, to 1.1% (or 6,834 people) in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Vermont, more than nine-in-ten (or 94% of) children in immigrant families were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis at the University of Albany.

Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to Vermont’s economy.

  • The 2009 purchasing power of Latinos totaled $251.6 million—an increase of 441.7% since 1990.  Asian buying power totaled $178.7 million—an increase of 402.8% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Vermont’s 434 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $67 million in 2002, the last year for which data is available.  The state’s 452 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $38 million and employed 229 people in 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

Immigrants are important to Vermont’s economy as workers and taxpayers.

  • Immigrants comprised 3.4% of the state’s workforce in 2007 (or 12,000 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised less than 0.5% of the state’s workforce (or fewer than 10,000 workers) in 2008, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • More than half of the milk produced in the state comes from the roughly 2,000 Hispanic migrant farm workers living and working in Vermont, according to a survey by the Vermont Farm Bureau.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Vermont, the state would lose $794.8 million in economic activity, $294.6 million in gross state product, and approximately 5,143 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

Immigrants are important to Vermont’s economy as students.

Naturalized citizens excel educationally.

  • In Vermont, 34.4% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2007 had a bachelor’s or higher degree.
  • 36.4% of Vermont’s foreign-born population age 25 and older had a bachelor’s or higher degree in 2007, compared to 31.9% of native-born persons age 25 and older.
  • In Vermont, 82.7% 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.