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RELEASE: CRI Center for Economic Policy and Analysis


RE: Undocumented immigrants in Delaware


DATE: June 8, 2010


CEPA estimates the population of undocumented immigrants in Delaware to be 20,250 as of 2008. This includes 14,880 undocumented immigrants in New Castle County, 2,225 in Kent County and 3,150 in Sussex.


These estimates are derived from the latest Bureau of Census data on the foreign born population for Delaware and the counties. Based upon research by the Urban Institute, 26% of the foreign born population is considered to be undocumented immigrants. That number is then adjusted upward based upon research from the Pew Hispanic Center that finds that the undocumented immigrants from the reported BOC data capture only 85% of all the undocumented population. Application of this same methodology to the whole U.S. results in an estimated undocumented population of 11.5 million, a number very similar to the most cited estimates.


The percent Delaware’s resident population that is foreign born (2008) is half of the national proportion, and well below the proportions in New Jersey and Maryland (Chart 1). Nevertheless, between 2000 and 2008 Delaware’s foreign born population has increased far faster than the nation and surrounding states (Chart 2). Over that time period Delaware’s total population rose 5.5% while the state’s foreign born population jumped 47.5%. Both the BOC and the Delaware Population Consortium projections indicate that the rapid growth of Delaware’s foreign born population will continue.


Chart 1 – % of residents foreign born, 2008


Source: BOC


Chart 2 – % change in foreign born population, 2000-08


Source: BOC


Delaware’s undocumented immigrant population is a smaller proportion of total population than throughout the U.S., and certainly smaller than the proportions in states such as Florida, Texas, California and Arizona. Nevertheless, given the rapid overall growth in Delaware’s foreign born population, the proportion of undocumented immigrants in the First State is rapidly rising. If left unaddressed, undocumented immigrants in Delaware will only become more of a civil and social issue.


Dr. John E. Stapleford, Director

Center for Economic Policy and Analysis