“Austin is truly an international city. Nearly 20 percent of our residents are born overseas,” an Austin city official, Natalie Betts, said in a Nov. 8 news release about an orientation session in Austin’s International Welcome Program.
That statistic sparked our curiosity.
City demographer Ryan Robinson told us that according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey analysis covering 2007-11, about 19.3 percent of Austin’s residents were born in foreign countries.
Census spokeswoman Virginia Hyer told us the bureau most recently published results of a survey covering 2010-12, which similarly indicated that about 19 percent of Austinites were born abroad. Hyer said the five-year survey cited by Robinson remained a good source for data on small groups such as foreign-born populations because of its larger sample size.
Specifically, according to data from the five-year analysis, 150,565 of the city’s 782,149 residents were born abroad. (Not included: the 11,548 Austinites born in Puerto Rico and U.S. Island areas or born abroad to American parents, who were classified as “native.”)
That makes the Live Music Capital of the World more cosmopolitan than the U.S. in general (13 percent foreign-born) or Texas (16 percent), according to other 2007-11 survey data Robinson emailed us. Austin also edged San Antonio (14 percent) and Fort Worth (17 percent). However, it had fewer residents born abroad than Dallas (25 percent) and Houston (28 percent).
Robinson said the increase in Austin’s share of foreign-born residents is a long-term trend, rising from “maybe 16.5 percent in 2000” and less in 1990. “We’ve long had an international community, and it’s very much been tied to the University of Texas. That’s huge,” he said.
Only 23 percent of Austin’s foreign-born residents were U.S. citizens, according to the survey. That doesn’t mean the rest are here illegally, though; the survey did not ask about legal immigration status.
Among Austinites born abroad, the survey found, the largest contingents came from Latin America (66 percent of the foreign-born population), Asia (24 percent) and Europe (6 percent).
About one-tenth of all Austinites were born in Mexico, we found in expanded results from the 2007-11 survey. Mexico accounts for more than half the city’s foreign-born population — 54 percent. Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Cuba each account for 1 percent to 3 percent of those born abroad.
Note: The city news release said “overseas,” and clearly not all such residents had to cross an ocean to get here, but PolitiFact has equated “overseas” with “outside the U.S.” in numerous past fact-checks.
In case you’re curious: The 2007-11 survey also showed that 53 percent of Austinites were born in Texas.
A city of Austin official said, “Nearly 20 percent of our residents” are born abroad.
Such residents made up 19.3 percent of the city’s population in the 2007-11 period covered by a federal survey. We rate this claim as True.
City of Austin
Statement: “Nearly 20% of our residents” are born abroad.