Rockefeller Study: Immigrants Provide Economic Boost, But 4 in 10 Here Illegally

by Mark Carter  on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 2:33 pm  

Immigrants in Arkansas mostly work in low-income, manufacturing jobs, and about 44 percent of them live in Washington, Benton and Sebastian counties. Seventeen percent of Arkansas immigrants live in Pulaski County.

Latino immigrant men, at 88 percent, have the highest employment rate of any group, foreign- or native-born, the study found. About half of the state's Latino immigrants own their own home while two-thirds of non-Latino immigrants are home owners.

In-State Tuition

Joel Anderson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said children of undocumented immigrants, most of whom are U.S. born, should be allowed to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities.

He said it wasn't fair to require them to engage the public education system from kindergarten through 12th grade and then treat them as "outsiders" when they want to pursue higher education, and even suggested that the state Legislature, which convenes next week, should address the issue.

Anderson called the national immigration debate a complicated and emotional issue, but said the federal government has been stagnant in regards to the influx of illegal workers coming across U.S. borders and how to deal with them.

The study also found:

  • Children of Arkansas immigrants represent about 10 percent of all Arkansas children and about 10 percent of all public K-12 students.
  • From 2000 to 2010, Latino children in Arkansas increased by 38,000 while non-Hispanic white children increased by 23,000. Whites now account for the fastest growth over the age of 45.
  • About half of all Arkansas immigrants come to the state after living somewhere else in the U.S.
  • Of all Marshall Islanders living in the U.S., 19 percent is in Arkansas and 88 percent of that group resides in Washington County, primarily in Springdale. Arkansas trails only Hawaii in Marshallese population outside the Marshall Islands (located in the central Pacific northeast of Australia).
  • Marshallese began relocating to Arkansas in the late 1980s and their population grew in large part thanks to word-of-mouth. Marshall Islanders came for work and educational opportunities, and according to West-Scantlebury, because they liked the overall temperate climate.
  • Two-thirds of Arkansas immigrants are from Latin America and most of them are from Mexico.
  • The top five countries of origin for Arkansas immigrants are Mexico, El Salvador, India, Marshall Islands and Vietnam.
  • In 2010, Arkansas immigrants represented $4.3 billion in consumer buying power.
  • Of the state's Latino immigrant population, about half entail a working father and stay-at-home mother.
  • Alabama currently has the fastest growing immigrant population, and the southeastern U.S. represents the area of the country with the fastest growing non-native population.
  • Sixty-three percent of Latino immigrants in Arkansas under the age of 65 did not have health-care coverage as of 2010, and 30 percent of them lived below the poverty line (compared to 32 percent of native-born Latinos, 34 percent of blacks, and 14 percent of non-Hispanic whites and Asians).



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