Prep for Tonight’s Debate: Immigrants in the Lone Star State

Tonight, the narrowing pool of GOP presidential candidates will take the stage in Houston, Texas for their 10th debate (#GOPdebate), just ahead of Super Tuesday next week. Immigration is a prominent issue in Texas for several reasons: It is the state with the second-largest population of foreign-born residents, shares the largest swath of the Southern border with Mexico, and was the first state to pass a DREAM Act, which allowed undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.

Immigrants continue to play a large and growing role in the Texan economy. Between 2000 and 2013, the state’s immigrant population grew by roughly 45 percent, which is a considerably higher growth rate compared to other states with large immigrant populations, like California and New York.

Immigration will undoubtedly play a significant role in Texan voters’ decision at the ballot box this year. Learn more about the Lone Star State’s immigrant community ahead of tonight’s debate:


One quarter of all businesses in Texas are owned by immigrants, generating over $10 billion in revenue each year. In recent years, foreign-born residents have founded roughly one in three of the state’s new businesses.


In 2012, almost 25 percent of doctors in Texas had graduated from an international medial school.

Contributions to entitlement programs

Foreign-born Hispanics in Michigan contributed $6.9 billion to Social Security and $1.6 billion to Medicare in 2013. 

STEM fields

Texas is recognized as a vital hub of American scientific advancement with some of the country’s preeminent research institutions, which attract the best and brightest from around the world. In 2013, over 54 percent of students earning a Master’s or PhD degree in a STEM field from the state’s research-intensive universities were foreign-born. Additionally, in recent years, almost two out of three students earning PhDs in engineering from Texas colleges and universities were non-citizens.

To learn more, check out our interactive map, which shows how immigrants impact state economies across the country.

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…