September 28, 2023
Florida immigration
By some estimates, half of all illegal immigrants in the state live in South Florida.
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Unauthorized immigration

About a third of illegal immigrants in Florida come from Mexico and Haiti.

Mike Vogel | 9/27/2018

About a third of illegal immigrants in Florida come from Mexico and Haiti.

Estimates of the population of undocumented immigrants in Florida range from 610,000 to 850,000 — roughly equivalent to the combined populations of Tampa and Miami. At 610,000, unauthorized immigrants amount to 3% of Florida’s total population and 14% of its overall foreign-born population.

Undocumented immigrants aren’t spread evenly around the state. Depending on who’s counting, at least half of the foreign-born people in Florida here illegally live in South Florida. Pew Research says the majority of unauthorized immigrants live in just 20 metros nationally. South Florida, from Palm Beach County south through the Keys, ranks fifth. Metro Orlando ranks 19th nationally.

Unauthorized Immigrants in Major Counties

  • Miami-Dade/Monroe — 151,000
    (78,000 Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Central America, 54,000 South America, 8,000 Caribbean, 6,000 Europe and Canada, 5,000 Asia)
  • Broward — 84,000
    (32,000 South America, 27,000 Mexico and Central America, 13,000 Caribbean, 5,000 Europe and Canada, 5,000 Asia)
  • Palm Beach — 67,000
    (45,000 Guatemala, Mexico and Central America, 11,000 South America, 3,000 Caribbean, 3,000 Europe and Canada, 3,000 Asia)
  • Orange — 47,000
    (19,000 Mexico and Central America, 14,000 South America, 7,000 Asia, 4,000 Caribbean)
  • Hillsborough — 41,000
    (27,000 Mexico and Central America)
  • Lee County — 27,000
    (21,000 Mexico and Central America)
  • Collier County — 22,000
    (18,000 Mexico and Central America)
  • Polk — 18,000
    (14,000 from Mexico and Central America)
  • Pinellas — 14,000
    (6,000 Mexico and Central America)

Source: Center for Migration Studies

A Sketch of Those Here Illegally

Most (70%) live with no kids, but a quarter have a child who is a U.S. citizen.

Most unauthorized immigrants (67%) aren’t married, compared to 56% of the U.S.-born population.

Nearly two-thirds (61%) of adults completed high school. That compares to 77.5% for the overall foreign-born population and 90.7% for the U.S.-born population. Some 16% of the unauthorized have a bachelor’s. In comparison, 17% of the overall foreign-born population holds a bachelor’s and 19% of the U.S.-born population.

There are more males (55%), slightly higher than the overall U.S. population.

Nearly half (46%) don’t speak English well or at all. The most common home language is Spanish, followed by Portuguese, Hindi and Vietnamese.

Most work — 65% have jobs. A fourth aren’t in the labor force.

Unauthorized immigrants work in construction, accommodation, agriculture and food services and a catch-all category that includes trash-hauling and management work. They work in higher percentages in those industries than their U.S.-born and overall foreign-born counterparts.

Nearly a third (31%) live at or below the poverty line compared to 17.3% for the overall foreign-born population and 14% for the U.S.-born.

They generally don’t have health insurance. Some 71% are uninsured compared to 23% for the overall foreign-born and 9.8% for the U.S. born.

A third own homes. Among the overall foreign-born, the percentage is 57% compared to 67% for the U.S. born.

Source: Migration Policy Institute

Where Unauthorized Immigrants in Florida Come From

Mexico 23.0%
Haiti 12.0
Honduras 7.0
Venezuela 6.5
Guatemala 6.0
Colombia 6.0
Jamaica 3.6
Nicaragua 3.6
Brazil 3.6
Peru 3.2

Source: Center for Migration Studies


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