How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Study: LA County does well at welcoming immigrants, not so well at integrating them

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Los Angeles County ranks high in terms of welcoming immigrants, according to a new USC study, but not as high as other California regions in terms of immigrants' economic success and civic participation.

What is immigrant integration? It's measured in several ways, but altogether it refers to how immigrant-friendly a region is, and how well immigrants tend to do there as they make that region their new home.

The University of Southern California's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration recently released an immigrant integration scorecard comparing different regions within California, a state arguably built by immigrants since its early days. It provides an interesting look at where immigrants land best, as well as where they are most apt to prosper over time.

Here's what was measured, from USC's report:

The researchers used a variety of indicators to capture different aspects of immigrant integration in the areas of economic mobility and civic participation as well as the receiving society’s openness. These indicators are grouped into four categories: Economic Snapshot, Economic Trajectory, Warmth of Welcome and Civic Engagement. 

Overall, Santa Clara County scored highest in terms of successfuly integrating immigrants, while Los Angeles County scored near the bottom. And L.A. County scored lowest in an "economic snapshot" category that measured the economic well-being of immigrants. From the report:

Given the area’s large unauthorized population, wages may be especially low because of labor abuses. There are also major disparities between immigrants and U.S.-born non-Hispanic whites in terms of access (health insurance, car access, and social security). 

However, L.A. County scored well in terms of "warmth of welcome," ranking second among the 10 regions scored, partly due to a large number of organizations that work with immigrants in the region, although there could be improvement in terms of English classes for immigrants and strengthening K-12 education for English-learner students.

And in terms of immigrants' economic trajectory, the county scored in the middle, with immigrants able to prosper economically over time.

There are good details on all of the regions scored; the entire scorecard can be downloaded here.

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