E.g., 08/13/2020
E.g., 08/13/2020

Profile of the Unauthorized Population - County Data

Profile of the Unauthorized Population:
Harris County, TX

DemographicsEstimate% of Total
Unauthorized Population 412,000 100%
Top Countries of Birth
Mexico 234,000 57%
El Salvador 49,000 12%
Honduras 28,000 7%
Guatemala 18,000 4%
Vietnam 10,000 2%
Regions of Birth
Mexico and Central America 333,000 81%
South America 12,000 3%
Europe/Canada/Oceania 9,000 2%
Asia 42,000 10%
Africa 12,000 3%
Years of U.S. Residence
Less than 5 74,000 18%
5 to 9 82,000 20%
10 to 14 100,000 24%
15 to 19 73,000 18%
20 or more 83,000 20%
Under 16 32,000 8%
16 to 24 60,000 14%
25 to 34 108,000 26%
35 to 44 105,000 26%
45 to 54 63,000 15%
55 and over 44,000 11%
Female 187,000 46%
FamilyEstimate% of Total
Parental Status
Population ages 15 and older 384,000 100%
Reside with at least one U.S.-citizen child under 18 125,000 33%
Reside with noncitizen children only under 18 30,000 8%
Reside with no children 229,000 60%
Marital Status
Population ages 15 and older 384,000 100%
Never married 144,000 37%
Married to a U.S. citizen 46,000 12%
Married to a legal permanent resident (LPR) 30,000 8%
Married to non-U.S. citizen/non-LPR 96,000 25%
Divorced, separated, widowed 69,000 18%
Education and LanguageEstimate% of Total
School Enrollment of Children and Youth
Population ages 3 to 17 43,000 100%
Enrolled 38,000 89%
Not enrolled 5,000 11%
Population ages 3 to 12 18,000100%
Enrolled 16,000 86%
Not enrolled--
Population ages 13 to 17 24,000 100%
Enrolled 22,000 92%
Not enrolled--
Population ages 18 to 24 47,000 100%
Enrolled 15,000 33%
Not enrolled 32,000 67%
Educational Attainment of Adults
Population ages 25 and older 320,000 100%
0-5 grade 45,000 14%
6-8 grade 62,000 19%
9-12 grade 54,000 17%
High school diploma or GED 80,000 25%
Some college or associate’s degree 40,000 13%
Bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree 39,000 12%
English Proficiency
Population ages 5 and older 408,000 100%
Speak only English 27,000 7%
Speak English "very well" 96,000 23%
Speak English "well" 75,000 19%
Speak English "not well"/"not at all" 210,000 51%
Top 5 Languages Spoken at Home
Population ages 5 and older 408,000 100%
Spanish 331,000 81%
English 27,000 7%
Vietnamese 10,000 2%
Chinese 7,000 2%
Sub-Saharan African 5,000 1%
WorkforceEstimate% of Total
Labor Force Participation
Civilian population ages 16 and older 380,000 100%
Employed 262,000 69%
Unemployed 16,000 4%
Not in the labor force 102,000 27%
Top Industries of Employment
Civilian employed population ages 16 and older 262,000 100%
Construction 66,000 25%
Accommodation and food services, arts, entertainment, and recreation 45,000 17%
Professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services 38,000 15%
Other services (except public administration) 31,000 12%
Manufacturing 29,000 11%
EconomicsEstimate% of Total
Family Income
Below 50% of the poverty level 44,000 11%
50-99% of the poverty level 78,000 19%
100-149% of the poverty level 70,000 17%
150-199% of the poverty level 63,000 15%
At or above 200% of the poverty level 157,000 38%
Access to Health Insurance
Uninsured 265,000 64%
Home Ownership*
Homeowner 151,000 37%


Source: Migration Policy Institute (MPI) analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from the pooled 2012-16 American Community Survey (ACS) and the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), drawing on a methodology developed in consultation with James Bachmeier of Temple University and Jennifer Van Hook of The Pennsylvania State University, Population Research Institute.

Note: For U.S., state, and county estimates of the unauthorized population potentially eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, click here.

Data-related notes
* “Homeowners” are unauthorized immigrants residing in homes that are owned, not rented.

+ Includes the following Colorado counties: Adams, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, and Jefferson, as well as portions of Arapahoe, Boulder, and Weld counties.

++ NECTAs refer to New England City and Town Areas, geographic entities defined by the U.S. Census Bureau for use as alternatives to counties in the six-state New England region.

  1. Estimate for China includes Hong Kong but excludes Taiwan; estimate for Korea includes South Korea and North Korea.
  2. “School Enrollment of Children and Youth” refers to unauthorized immigrants who reported attending school or college at any time in the three months prior to the survey.
  3. For languages, “Chinese” includes Mandarin, Cantonese, and other Chinese languages; “English” includes English, Jamaican Creole, Krio, Pidgin Krio, and other English-based Creole languages; “French” includes French, Patois, and Cajun; “Pacific Island languages” includes Ilocano, Samoan, Hawaiian, Sebuano, Chamorro, Guamanian, Marshallese, Trukese, Tongan, and other Austronesian languages, but excludes Tagalog and Filipino, which are reported separately; “Portuguese” includes Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole; “Sub-Saharan African” includes Swahili or other Bantu languages, Mande, Fulani, Kru, and other unspecified African languages; “Tagalog” includes Tagalog and Filipino.
  4. For industries, “Other services” are miscellaneous services, not including the following services listed separately: (1) professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services; (2) educational services; (3) health and social services; and (4) accommodation and food services, arts, entertainment, and recreation.
  5.  “-” estimates are zero, not applicable, or not displayed due to small sample size.
  6. Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Methodology in Brief:
MPI’s method uses information from the SIPP to assign legal status to noncitizens in the ACS. In the SIPP, noncitizens report whether they currently have lawful permanent resident (LPR) status—i.e., a green card. Those without LPR status may be recent refugees, temporary visitors (e.g., students or high-skilled H-1B workers), or unauthorized immigrants. Our method maps characteristics such as country of birth, year of U.S. entry, age, gender, and educational attainment between the two surveys, and those noncitizens in the ACS who have characteristics similar to those reporting LPR status in the SIPP are coded as LPRs in the ACS. The remaining noncitizens—who are similar in characteristics to those not reporting LPR status in the SIPP—are classified as either unauthorized or legal temporary migrants, depending on whether they meet the qualifications for H-1B and the other temporary visa classifications. This method was developed in consultation with James Bachmeier of Temple University and Jennifer Van Hook of The Pennsylvania State University, Population Research Institute. For more detail on the methods, see Jeanne Batalova, Sarah Hooker, Randy Capps, and James D. Bachmeier, DACA at the Two-Year Mark: A National and State Profile of Youth Eligible and Applying for Deferred Action (Washington, DC: MPI, 2014). Please note that these estimates use commonly accepted benchmarks from other research studies to determine the size of the unauthorized population and response rates to surveys. These estimates have the same sampling and coverage errors as any other survey-based estimates that rely on ACS and other Census Bureau data.