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REPORT: Immigration Curbs Population Decline in Rural Texas Communities

12 Sep

In over 400 rural Texas areas, the native-born adult population dropped 19 percent while the immigrant population grew 96 percent.

An influx of immigrants to rural areas is curbing population decline across the country, according to a new report. The study looked at 2,767 rural areas nationwide, including 412 communities in Texas.
Overall, the rural areas in Texas showed an 11 percent population decline since 1990.

“That’s a combination of a 19 percent decline in native-born adults, but also a 96 percent growth among immigrants,” said Nicole Svajlenka, a senior analyst on immigration with the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

Svajlenka said that, of the 412 Texas rural communities considered in the study, 71 percent of them experienced population decline.

“They actually would have experienced even worse population loss if it weren’t for immigrants moving to those communities,” Svajlenka added.

Beyond the numbers, Svajlenka said immigrants add vitality to these communities, bolstering the workforce, especially in industries like meatpacking and agriculture, while also opening stores and restaurants and keeping schools and doctor’s offices open.

“There are fears on the part of US-born residents about what this means for job competition, cultural loss, all of the things that they traditionally associate with where they live. But these places really do stand to benefit from embracing all members,” she added.

Compared to national figures, Texas saw a larger population decline in rural areas. Svajlenka said that’s likely because Texas was already a more immigrant-rich state to begin with.

Among the areas studied in Texas, 27 percent of the rural communities saw a population increase. Among those areas, a third of those communities, specifically 64, grew exclusively due to immigration.