Thousands of migrants born in other countries continue streaming into Texas, but lately more of them have lived somewhere else in the country first, according to a new analysis.
The fluctuations in migration come as the share of people from Latin America coming to Texas is falling and Asian migration to the Lone Star State has increased dramatically. The changing patterns — captured in a report by the Office of the State Demographer, which provides periodic snapshots of the state's growth — are lending the state a more international flair, especially its metropolitan areas. Texas’ population is more international today than at any time since it became a state in 1845, according to the demographer’s report.
In 2013, almost 39 percent of the foreign-born people who moved to Texas had lived somewhere else in the United States first, mostly California and Florida, the study shows. A decade ago about 34 percent came here from other states. Meanwhile, the share of immigrants moving straight to Texas from another country dropped from 66.3 percent of newcomers in 2005 to 61.5 percent in 2013.
Texas has seen dramatic fluctuations in the origin of its foreign-born immigrants in the last decade. As the share of immigrants from Latin America has decreased, the percentage of Asian immigrants has more than doubled. Asian immigrants are more likely to settle in other areas of the country — particularly California — and then move to Texas, state demographer Lloyd Potter said.
Jobs likely explain most of the shifting patterns, especially as a dramatic increase in the number of educated, skilled Asians look to Texas for work, Potter said.
“They’re starting to look for employment opportunities and they see that Texas has them,” Potter said.
In 2013, more foreign-born people came to the state from California than any other state, with 16,412 foreign-born migrants leaving the West Coast for Texas. Second was Florida from which 6,264 foreign-born migrants came to Texas.
Most foreign-born migrants settle in the state’s biggest counties with Harris County, home to Houston, topping the list.
As they become hotspots for Asian immigration, Harris and Dallas counties are beginning to mirror California, where major cities have large Hispanic populations and growing Asian populations, Potter said.
Overall, Asians still make up a tiny portion — 4.5 percent — of the state’s population of 27 million people. But in Harris and Dallas counties, the Asian community's share of the population — 7 percent and 5.9 percent — exceeds both its state and national shares.
“[The foreign-born population’s] characteristics are different than the native-born population, generally speaking, in terms of the jobs they do, the work and the languages they speak at home,” Potter said. “Especially with this shift in Asians, it’s really causing Texas to become much more diverse in terms of our racial and ethnic composition. And it’s also beginning to look a little bit more like California in terms of the migrant flows.”