January 18, 2007

The Mexican Invasion

D Magazine FEB 2007, Posted On: 1/18/2007

Excerpt from The Mexican Invasion

Of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States (out of 31 million total immigrants), 1.4 million to 1.6 million are thought to be in Texas. Statistically, that’s 4 percent of the population nationally and 5 percent for the state. But the presence is much higher in Dallas, which is ranked, with Fort Worth, as an “ethnic hypergrowth city” by the Brookings Institution. Only the Mexican consulates in Los Angeles and Chicago top Dallas in volume of services, such as matricula consular ID cards provided to Mexican citizens. Houston is fourth.

No one knows exactly how many undocumented immigrants live among the 1.2 million residents of the City of Dallas, but the figure can be estimated. Approximately half of Dallas’ 516,000 Hispanics (43 percent of 1.2 million) are immigrants, or 258,000. Only 19 percent are naturalized citizens. According to the Dallas Federal Reserve, about 30 percent of U.S. immigrants are undocumented, which would indicate 77,400 of the immigrants in Dallas are undocumented. But the immigrant information clearinghouse DFW International says close to half of the foreign-born in Dallas are without documents—which would make about 126,000. That’s about one person in 10 in the city. And the odds are at least six in 10 that he or she will be Mexican—10 percent of that country’s population is in the United States, as is 14 percent of its workforce, mostly sin papeles, without documentation.

About six in 10 are working, and the other four are dependents. They tend to be young, reflecting both the dramatic youthful population trend in Mexico and also in the United States, where the bulge of the Hispanic population is under 25. About half live in poverty and without health insurance. The one in three who have been here less than five years is also likely to be bewildered by the contradictions of working in a society that simultaneously seems to lure them here and to hate them for showing up.

Their presence, though significant, is part of an even larger upsurge in the general Hispanic population. Dallas will become a majority Hispanic city well before 2030, when the entire state will have shifted that way. As Dallas County gained 175,000 Hispanic residents (now 35 percent of the population) from 2000 to 2005, 130,000 Anglos moved out. Immigrants now account for 100 percent of the county’s net population growth; in the North Texas region, it’s 40 percent. Half the 1 percent population growth rate of the United States is thought to be from Hispanic immigrants.


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