to the U.S. Census Bureau. Alabama was home to 162,673 immigrants in 2011. Immigrants (foreign-born) make up 3.4% of the state’s population and comprised 4.7% of the state’s workforce (107,062
workers). Over one-third of them, more precisely, 35.4% of immigrants (57,576 people) are naturalized U.S. citizens and eligible to vote and 0.8% of registered voters (19,504) in Alabama were “New
Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants according to an analysis of 2008 Census Bureau. Immigrants are not only important to Alabama’s economy as workers, but also
account for billions of dollars in tax revenue and consumer purchasing power.
Latino and Asian immigrant entrepreneurs and consumersaccount for growing shares of the economy and population in Alabama. Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) represented $5.8 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $3.6 billion, and employed more than 25,000 people in 2012 according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners. Further- more, Alabama’s 6,450 foreign non-immigrant students contributed $135.6 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2011-2012 academic year, according to Association of International Educators.
We all understand, from experience and from the best data, that immigrants drive economic growth. Mayor’s Offices around the country, led by the New York City Mayor’s Office, have begun to seek ways to tap into this value and potential of current and future immigrants and develop blueprints for immigrant civic engagement, citizenship, police and community relations, and economic development.
An important component of immigrants’ labor force, tax base, and business community in Alabama also should be recognized and policies that strategically address immigrant communities’ unique needs must be developed. This will further enhance immigrants’ and non-immigrants’ contributions to the civic, economic and cultural life of Alabama.