In advance of Texas’s Republican primary on Tuesday, here are 10 important facts about immigrants and people of color in the state that display their significant economic, cultural, and electoral power.
1. Communities of color are driving population growth in Texas. Texas is one of five states in the country where people of color make up the majority of the population. Between 2000 and 2009 Hispanic population growth accounted for 63.1 percent of all growth in the state. Texas’s black and Asian populations—2.8 million people and 850,000 people, respectively—were the third largest in the country in 2010.
2. The majority of children in Texas are children of color. For children under age 5 in the state, children of color outnumbered non-Hispanic white children 2.2-to-1 in 2011. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, in 2009, 64 percent of the state’s children were of color.
3. Houston is the most racially and ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the country. According to a report from Rice University, the percentage of Latinos in the region increased dramatically from 20.8 percent in 1990 to more than one-third at 35.5 percent in 2010. This thriving racial and ethnic diversity places Houston at the head of the state’s rapid demographic changes.
4. Nearly a third of immigrants in Texas are naturalized—meaning they are eligible to vote. In 2010 immigrants comprised 16.4 percent of the state’s total population. That year there were 1.3 million naturalized U.S. citizens in Texas, approximately 32 percent of immigrants in the state.
5. Voters of color make up a growing portion of the Texas electorate. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos accounted for 20.1 percent of Texas voters in the 2008 elections. African Americans and Asians comprised 14.2 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, of the state’s voters that same year.
6. Even more Latinos are eligible to vote but are currently unregistered. According to the political opinion research group Latino Decisions, there are 2.1 million unregistered Latino voters in Texas in 2012. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that there are an additional 880,000 legal permanent residents (green card holders) in Texas who are eligible to naturalize and vote for the first time. Put together, this means Texas has close to an extra 3 million potential voters this fall.
7. The Department of Justice blocked a Texas voter ID law that threatened to disenfranchise Hispanics. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, far fewer non-Hispanic voters—4.3 percent, compared with 6.3 percent of Latino voters—lack a proper photo ID, which voters would have been required to show under the law. Texas’s own state data listed 174,866 registered Latino voters without an ID.
8. Communities of color add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Texas’s economy through entrepreneurship and spending. The purchasing power of Latinos in Texas increased more than 400 percent from 1990 to 2010, reaching a total of $176.3 billion. Asian buying power increased by more than 650 percent in the same period to a total of $34.4 billion. And in 2007 Texas’s nearly 450,000 Latino-owned businesses had close to 400,000 employees, and sales and receipts of $61.9 billion.
9. Immigrants are essential to the economy as workers. In 2010 immigrants comprised 20.9 percent of Texas’s workforce. As of 2007, 21 percent of Houston’s total economic output and 16 percent of Dallas’s economic output was derived from immigrants.
10. Immigrants contribute to the state economy through state and local taxes. In 2010, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants in Texas paid $1.6 billion in state and local taxes.
Vanessa Cárdenas is Director of Progress 2050 and Angela Maria Kelley is Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress.