Imagine if the American people were told in 1980 that the non-English-speaking population in America would triple and rise to a level that is greater than the population of France. Would they ever have agreed to the policies that enabled this fundamental transformation?
Yesterday, the Center for Immigration Studies published a new report based on census data showing that there are now 67.3 million people who speak a foreign language at home in America. That is roughly 21.9 percent of the entire U.S. population, according to new data from the 2018 American Community Survey.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
Trend: It’s not just the sheer number of foreign language speakers that is shocking; it’s the trend. The number has tripled since 1980 and doubled since 1990. The foreign-born population has grown seven times as fast as the native-born population since 1980. But even since 2010, when the foreign population had already ballooned, it has still grown twice as fast as the native-born population over the past eight years.
Distribution and concentration: Although 21.9 percent of the national population speaks a foreign language at home, that number is more concentrated in some states. In nine states, that number tops 25 percent, and in seven states, the number tops 30 percent. The states with the highest percentage of foreign language speakers are California (45 percent), Texas (36 percent), New Mexico (34 percent), New Jersey (32 percent), New York and Nevada (each 31 percent), Florida (30 percent), Arizona and Hawaii (each 28 percent), and Massachusetts (24 percent). Astoundingly, in the five largest American cities, just under half of all residents speak a foreign language at home. In New York City it is 49 percent; in Los Angeles it is 59 percent; in Chicago it is 36 percent; in Houston it is 50 percent; and in Phoenix it is 38 percent.
Former red states and future purple states among fastest-growing: While the traditional large cities, more urban states, and the Southwest still contain the lion’s share of foreign language speakers, some of the fastest-growing foreign language populations are in states that are emerging as new destinations for immigrants. States with the largest percentage increase of foreign language speakers since 1980 are “Nevada (up 1,088 percent), Georgia (up 952 percent), North Carolina (up 802 percent), Virginia (up 488 percent), Tennessee (up 459 percent), Arkansas (up 445 percent), Washington (up 432 percent), South Carolina (up 398 percent), Florida (up 393 percent), Utah (up 383 percent), and Oregon (up 380 percent).”
Is it any wonder that Nevada and Virginia have turned blue, North Carolina has turned purple, and Georgia’s shade of red is growing lighter? Moreover, watch for some other states in the future, such as Tennessee, Arkansas, and South Carolina. In the past eight years, states like Idaho and Oklahoma have also seen a huge percentage growth.