E.g., 10/01/2023
E.g., 10/01/2023
A Profile of Houston’s Diverse Immigrant Population in a Rapidly Changing Policy Landscape

The highly diverse and rapidly growing Houston metropolitan area is home to 1.6 million immigrants, ranging from high-skilled professionals to working-class families and international students. In 2017, for the first time, the region was home to more Latino than non-Hispanic White residents, alongside substantial Asian and African populations. Mexico remains the top origin country for immigrants in Houston, but other foreign-born populations, including from Venezuela, Cuba, and Nigeria, have grown much more quickly in recent years.

Underpinning this growth is the economic strength of the area. Immigrants make up approximately one-third of workers in Greater Houston, and after Hurricane Harvey damaged large swaths in 2017, workers in the immigrant-dense construction industry have been in particular demand. Indeed more than half of workers in the local construction section are foreign born.

This dynamic area provides an interesting window into how national immigration policy changes enacted by the Trump administration are being felt at the local level. Using the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and other data sources, this report examines three groups of particular interest given recent policy changes: DACA beneficiaries, recipients of Temporary Protected Status, and asylum seekers.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. A Diverse Metropolitan Area in an Era of Change

A. Hurricane Harvey and Its Aftermath

B. A Changing Immigration Policy Climate

III. Profile of the Area’s Foreign-Born Population

A. Geographic Concentration

B. Most Common Countries of Origin

IV. Immigrants by Citizenship and Legal Status

A. Geographic Distribution of Unauthorized and Legal Immigrants

B. National Origins

C. Family Structure

D. Educational Attainment

E. English Proficiency and Bilingualism

F. Labor-Force Participation

G. Industries of Employment

H. Poverty Levels

I. Home Ownership

V. Immigrants with Temporary Immigration Benefits

A. DACA Recipients

B. TPS Holders

C. Asylum Seekers

VI. Legal Immigrants Eligible to Naturalize

VII. Immigration Enforcement in the Houston Area

Detainer Issuance and Resulting Bookings into ICE Custody

VIII. Conclusions and Implications for Service Providers