The founders of our great state of Texas were immigrant newcomers from Virginia and Tennessee – Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett among them – attracted to free land, opportunity and adventure in what was then northern Mexico. According to a new study we published today at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, hard-working Texas immigrants are still powering the state’s economy today.
Today, one in six Texans is an immigrant, totaling over 4.2 million people. Houston is now more diverse than New York City. Texas immigrants work in a wide range of jobs, with about a third of them in white-collar jobs (architects, engineers), another third in blue collar jobs (machine operators, construction workers) and the rest in service and farming jobs. Small businesses owned by immigrants also contributed $4.4 billion in earnings to the Texas economy in 2011.
It’s a good week to remember the contributions of immigrants in Texas. The U.S. Census Bureau issues its annual population data, which shows the growing role immigrants play in Texas society. And this week marks National Welcoming Week, a nationwide event organized by Welcoming America to highlight the contributions of immigrants to American communities.
The new CPPP study shows that welcoming immigrants is good for the economy. Yet our report suggests that Texas could do more to ensure that all immigrants are on a path to success – a quarter of all Texas immigrants live below the poverty line compared to 17.2 percent of U.S.-born Texans.
Our state has a rich history of embracing immigrant culture, from barbecue introduced by German immigrants, to kolaches brought by the Czechs, to that state emblem of integration, the breakfast taco. Let’s make sure our public policies are equally welcoming – it’s true to our history, and good for the economy.