A New Report Shows How Oregon Depends on Immigrant Workers

People born abroad make up 10 percent of the state.

Oregon runs on immigrant labor.

That's one of the inescapable conclusions of a report released Aug. 3 by a coalition of state government and business leaders demanding Congress enact comprehensive immigration reform.

The group, led by Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and the Oregon Association of Nurseries, wants Congress to make it easier for immigrants to enter Oregon. It's an uneasy alliance: progressive politicians and preachers are teaming with the business lobby, which wants more laborers. They face an uphill battle. Even before the groundswell of anti-immigrant feeling that buoyed Donald J. Trump, Oregon voters soundly rejected a 2014 measure to let undocumented workers get driver's licenses.

But the coalition calling itself Reason for Reform isn't appealing to the higher virtues of Oregonians. It's aiming its case at the wallet. The group's report argues that immigrants in Oregon create new jobs and pour $2.4 billion a year into state and federal tax coffers.

The 42-page report is jammed with figures from 2014 on legal immigrants and undocumented workers. Here are four questions it addresses.

1. How many Oregonians were born abroad?

Page7_10 Percent_WorldChart__4241

10 percent.

That's 388,960 people.

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3 percent of Oregon's population is made up of undocumented immigrants.

That's 114,195 people. (Other estimates place the number closer to 160,000.)

2. Where do Oregon's immigrant tax dollars come from?

The amount foreign-born workers in Oregon paid in federal and state taxes.


3. Where do Oregon's immigrants go?

The Oregon cities seeking the most visiting-worker visas.


H-1B (high-skilled workers, often in tech jobs)

1. Hillsboro

2. Portland

3. Beaverton

H-2A (agricultural workers)

1. Hermiston

2. Hood River

3. Albany

4. What do Oregon's immigrants do?

Occupations with largest share of foreign-born workers.


Source: The Contributions of New Americans in Oregon, the Partnership for a New American Economy

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