Since the late 1800s, Chicago has been a destination for immigrants of all kinds to settle. Over time, communities of immigrants have built many Illinois neighborhoods as they made their homes around the windy city.
In the current US climate, anxieties for immigrants are at an all-time high. Illinois is a state that has welcomed many immigrants over the years and the current tension does us no favors. At the end of the day, Illinois benefits from the immigrants that live here.
The facts about Illinois and immigration
Anti-immigration propaganda paints a picture that immigrants take resources from naturalized American citizens and don’t contribute in return. But nothing could be further from the truth. Here are some facts about Illinois and immigrants that everyone should know:
- A large part of Illinois’ total residents are first-generation immigrants. According to the American Immigration Council, immigrants made up 14.2% of the population in 2015. That means that one in seven Illinois residents are foreign-born individuals.
- Immigrants own and run many businesses across Illinois. The American Immigration Council reports that one-fifth of business owners in Illinois are immigrants. These businesses make over $2.5 billion annually and help power our economy.
- Illinois’ labor force depends on immigrants. One in six workers in Illinois is an immigrant. Over 1.2 million immigrant workers make up almost 18% of the labor force in Illinois, across a wide range of industries.
- Immigrants in Illinois contribute billions of dollars in taxes, annually. In 2014, immigrant households paid $9.8 billion in federal taxes and $5.2 billion in state taxes.
- Chicago recently ranked as the friendliest major US city for immigrants. An immigration research group called New American Economy ranks Chicago as the number one major city for immigrant populations. This ranking is based on the city’s policies towards immigrants and the quality of immigrant lives.
When it comes to immigration reform, Illinois leads the pack because we continue to strive forward with immigrant rights. The truth is, immigrants are a big part of Illinois’ history and our future must reflect that.