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California And Illegal Immigration

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					                                                                     ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

                                                                                            JUNE 2008

     CALIFORNIA IS HOME TO SEVERAL MILLION UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS.
     Although estimates of the undocumented immigrant population are imprecise, the best estimates 
     suggest that California was home to about 2.8 million illegal immigrants in 2006. One‐fourth of the 
     nation’s undocumented immigrants reside in California (about twice the state’s share of the nation’s 
     overall population).  In California and Arizona, undocumented immigrants constitute about 8% of 
     the population, the highest concentration of illegal immigrants in the United States.  However, most 
     immigrants in California (about 70%) are either naturalized citizens or have visas.    
     THE POPULATION OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS HAS GROWN RAPIDLY IN THE NATION …
     Over the past ten years, the number of undocumented immigrants in the nation has more than 
     doubled, from about 5 million in 1996 to 11.6 million in 2006.  During this period, the population of 
     illegal immigrants has grown by more than 500,000 per year, accounting for 19% of the nation’s 
     overall population growth.     
     … BUT GROWTH HAS SLOWED IN CALIFORNIA.
     Recent estimates suggest that California’s undocumented immigrant population is increasing by 
     about 50,000 per year compared to about 100,000 per year in the 1990s.  Between 2000 and 2006, the 
     illegal immigrant population grew 13% in California, less than one‐third the rate of growth in the rest 
     of the nation.  During this period, undocumented immigration has accounted for only 10% of the 
     state’s overall population growth. 
     MOST UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS ARE FROM LATIN AMERICA.
     In California, nine of every ten undocumented immigrants are from Latin America ─ over half (65%) 
     are from Mexico alone.  Most of the remainder are from Asia, but even Europe is the origin of tens of 
     thousands of illegal immigrants in California. 
     ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS OFTEN LIVE IN FAMILIES WITH LEGAL U.S. RESIDENTS.
     Men make up the majority of undocumented immigrants (54%).  Most illegal immigrants (77%) live 
     with family members, many of whom have legal status (typically, children born in the United States).  
     Many undocumented immigrants eventually legalize their status. 
     ABOUT ONE IN ELEVEN WORKERS IN CALIFORNIA IS AN UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT.
     Undocumented immigrants tend to have low levels of education and thus work in low‐skill jobs.  
     Although a majority of farm workers in California are illegal immigrants, most undocumented 
     immigrants work in urban areas.   In 2004, the leading industries of employment for illegal 
     immigrants were manufacturing and leisure & hospitality.  
     MOST CALIFORNIANS FAVOR SOME FORM OF LEGALIZATION.
     Two‐thirds of California adults think that illegal immigrants should be allowed to apply for work 
     permits that would let them stay and work in the United States.  An even larger majority (72%) think 
     most illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years should 
     be given a chance to keep their jobs and apply for legal status, while one‐quarter (25%) of 
     Californians believe that these immigrants should be deported. 
  

                                                                                           www.ppic.org
                           Undocumented Immigrants by State, 2006

                                                     Number of
                                                   undocumented                 Share of state’s
                   State                            immigrants                  total population

                   California                       2,830,000                          7.8%
                   Texas                            1,640,000                          7.1
                   Florida                            980,000                          5.5
                   Illinois                           550,000                          4.3
                   New York                           540,000                          2.8
                   Arizona                            500,000                          8.3
                   Georgia                            490,000                          5.3
                   New Jersey                         430,000                          5.0
                   North Carolina                     370,000                          4.2
                   Washington                         280,000                          4.4
                   Other states                     2,940,000                          2.0

                   All states                      11,550,000                          3.9%



                  Undocumented Immigrant Population in California and
                         Rest of United States, 2000 and 2006
   10,000,000
                                            2000        2006                               8,720,000
    9,000,000
    8,000,000
    7,000,000
                                                                             5,950,000
    6,000,000
    5,000,000
    4,000,000
                                            2,830,000
    3,000,000                   2,510,000

    2,000,000
    1,000,000
              0
                                     California                                  Rest of U.S.

Note: No representative national or state surveys provide an accurate direct count of undocumented immigrants and their
characteristics. The most credible estimates use a residual technique in which undocumented immigrant populations are
estimated based on subtracting estimates of legal immigrants from estimates of all immigrants.

Sources: Pew Hispanic Center. Department of Homeland Security. National Agricultural Workers Survey. U.S. Census
Bureau. Urban Institute. PPIC Statewide Survey, March 2008.

Contact: Hans Johnson


                                                                                                    www.ppic.org

				
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