BISMARCK — North Dakota's immigrant population is quite small in comparison to other states, with only about 5% of North Dakotans born in another country, according to a report released last month.

In 2018, about 8% of the state's almost 36,000 immigrants that year were from the Philippines, the American Immigration Council report stated.

Bhutan, Nepal, Canada and Liberia were also among the top countries of origin for North Dakota's immigrants.

The majority of North Dakota's immigrants work in health care, according to the American Immigration Council.

CHI St. Alexius Health, which has hospitals across North Dakota, partners with four companies that work directly with nurses from the Philippines to get them documentation needed to work in the United States, said spokesperson Chelsey Kralicek. These nurses usually work on two- or three-year contracts.

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"They have been a great addition to our staff," Kralicek said.

Kevin Iverson, the state's census office manager, said there is a large margin of error when looking at one year of population data in North Dakota because the state only has about 730,000 residents. It is more accurate to analyze multiple years of data.

According to four years of American Community Survey population estimates, North Dakota has approximately 2,000 Filipino immigrants. Iverson said he was not sure why the state has seen so many Filipino immigrants.

Approximately half of North Dakota's immigrants are U.S. citizens, according to the American Immigrant Council.

In North Dakota, the topic of immigration has been a source of contentious debate over the last year.

In December 2019, the Burleigh County Commission voted 3-2 to continue allowing refugees in the county. The decision came after dozens of Burleigh County residents voiced their opposition to allowing refugees, stating taxpayer dollars could be spent in "better" ways.

In 2018, North Dakota's immigrant-led households paid more than $71 million in state and local taxes, according to the American Immigrant Council.

"As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of North Dakota’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all," the report states.

Readers can reach reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at mgriffith@forumcomm.com