Immigration policies will likely be a hotly debated topic in this year’s midterm elections.
Debates have been fueled in part by President Donald Trump’s zero tolerance policy on immigration, including the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border this year.
Trump also has pushed to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that began under the Barack Obama administration that allows some people who entered the U.S. illegally to stay here. An executive order from Trump prohibits travel from several Muslim-majority countries, and he continues to promise a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
There are now threats of shutting down the federal government this fall over immigration and border security.
With so much focus on immigration, The News & Observer looked at the numbers in North Carolina, where 8 percent of the 10 million residents were not born in the United States.
So, how many immigrants live in North Carolina, and where did they come from?
Where are immigrants coming from?
Of North Carolina’s foreign-born population, Latin Americans make up the largest share, accounting for 53 percent of immigrants in the state.
Asians are the second-largest share of immigrants in North Carolina, comprising almost 30 percent of the state’s foreign-born population.
North Carolina’s foreign-born population grew almost 274 percent between 1990 and 2000 when the United States experienced the largest migration of people from other countries. In the following two decades, the foreign-born population continued to grow, but at a much slower rate.
Where are immigrants living?
- The largest share of immigrants in North Carolina live in the state’s biggest urban areas: Wake and Mecklenburg counties, home to Raleigh and Charlotte. Foreign-born Latinos account for 5 percent of the population in Wake County and 7 percent in Mecklenburg. Foreign-born Asians account for 5 percent of the population in Wake and 4 percent in Mecklenburg.
- Guilford, Mecklenburg, Orange, Union, Wake and Wayne counties had the largest proportional growth in foreign-born populations in the state between 2000 and 2016. In Guilford County, home to Greensboro, the foreign-born population was 6.5 percent in 2000; that figure increased to 10.5 percent in 2016.
Immigration in the U.S.
- In 2016, about 14 percent of the country’s population were immigrants.
- Immigrants and their descendants have been driving the country’s population growth for the last 50 years and will continue to do so for the next 50, according to the Pew Research Center. Pew predicts that by 2065, there will be 441 million people living in the U.S. — 78 million of them will be immigrants and 81 million of them will be children of immigrants.
- By 2065, the non-Hispanic white population is expected to decrease and it will no longer be the majority. However, it will remain the largest racial/ethnic group in the country, according to the Pew Research Center.
Demographic projections in N.C.
- Latino immigrants and their descendants make up 10 percent of North Carolina’s population. By 2037, Latinos in the state will account for almost 14 percent of the population.
- Most of the Latinos living in the state were born in the U.S., according to an analysis by Carolina Demography and UNC social scientist Krista Perreira.
- Net migration, which includes domestic and international, is the main driving force of population growth in North Carolina, according to Carolina Demography.