How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

More than two million undocumented immigrants call California home

Almost a quarter of the nation’s undocumented immigrant population — 23 percent — lives in California, says a new report compiled by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Of the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States, roughly 2.6 million were living in the Golden State in 2010, according to the report. Undocumented immigrants constitute about seven percent of the overall population in California, Nevada and Texas combined, making it the highest concentration in the U.S.

PPIC combined census numbers, data from the Pew Hispanic Center, the  Department of Homeland Security and other reports to come up with a detailed profile of California's undocumented residents. A few highlights:

  • More undocumented immigrants live in Los Angeles County than any other region in the state. L.A. County has nearly 900,000 undocumented residents, the most in the state. Orange County is next with nearly 300,000, followed by San Diego County (close to 180,000) and Santa Clara County (more than 170,000).
  • About one in ten members of California's workforce —  an estimated 1.85 million people — is undocumented. Along with Nevada, that's the highest concentration of undocumented workers in the U.S.

And as California goes, so goes the nation. A few national highlights from the report:

  • Mixed-status families are commonplace, in California and elsewhere. Nearly half of undocumented immigrants in the country are the parents of minor children, and more than three-fourths of those children are U.S. citizens. In 2010, about 4.5 million children in the U.S. had at least one undocumented parent.
  • Eight out of ten undocumented immigrants are believed to be from Latin America, and more than half are from Mexico, although the share of Mexican nationals has been declining. Of the rest, the majority are from Asia, although there are also hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants from Europe, Canada, and Africa.

The report also links to maps of undocumented immigrants by ZIP code. It can be viewed in its entirety here.

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