How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The nation's immigrant population, illustrated

Source: Immigration Policy Center

As far as interactive maps and graphics charting the nation's immigrant population go, the Immigration Policy Center has released the granddaddy of them all this week. Based on census, economic and other data, a 50-state interactive map on the IPC homepage gives way to detailed state-by-state compilations of demographic, economic, educational, entrepreneurial, political and other information on the foreign-born, Latino and Asian populations of each state.

Each state page is accompanied by a downloadable infographic, like the one above for California, and a state fact sheet. Just a few highlights from the California fact sheet:



  • Immigrants comprised 34.6% of the state’s workforce in 2010 (or 6.5 million workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

  • 45.6% of immigrants (or 4.6 million people) in California were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2010 (up from 31.2% in 1990)—meaning that they are eligible to vote.

  • Immigrants in California pay roughly $30 billion in federal taxes, $5.2 billion in state income taxes, and $4.6 billion in sales taxes each year. In California, “the average immigrant-headed household contributes a net $2,679 annually to Social Security, which is $539 more than the average US-born household.”

  • Together, businesses owned by Latinos and Asians comprised more than one-quarter of all businesses in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners.

  • The number of immigrants in California with a college degree increased by 42.8% between 2000 and 2009, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.


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Alabama, So. Carolina lead nation in Latino population increase - and strict immigration laws

Photo by Maurice Michael/Flickr (Creative Commons)


The states with two of the nation's most restrictive new anti-illegal immigration laws also happen to be the two states that saw the biggest jump in their Latino population during the last decade.

Alabama saw a 145 percent increase in its Latino population between 2000 an 2010, according to census data, the second highest Latino growth rate in the nation. Its HB 56 immigration law, which remains partially blocked but has still caused a rash of school absences and a labor crisis in the fields as Latino workers flee the state, contains more restrictive provisions than Arizona's controversial SB 1070 on which it is modeled.

South Carolina, just sued by the federal government over its new SB 1070-inspired law allowing police to check for immigration status, saw the nation's biggest percent jump in Latino population growth: 148 percent. And Georgia, where an anti-illegal immigration law known as HB 87 was partially blocked in court over the summer but still caused a labor crisis, is not far behind. That state saw its Latino population grow 96 percent between 2000 and 2010.

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American snapshot: Echo Park

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

The Costa Alegre restaurant, a long established fixture on Sunset Boulevard, advertises its new vegetarian menu - yet another sign of changing times in Echo Park.

The neighborhood bucked the national trend in the 2010 Census, with its Latino population shrinking over the last decade, and its non-Latino white population growing.

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The nation's ethnic-generational divide, illustrated

There's a generational component to the racial and ethnic shift taking place in the United States population, with minority youths poised to become a majority in the not-too-distant future.

The growing gap between the nation's aging non-Latino white population and its young non-white population is illustrated in this interactive chart from PolicyLink, an Oakland-based social and economic advocacy nonprofit. While the majority of U.S. youths are of color, the majority of seniors are non-Latino whites, a combination that poses unique policy and political challenges.

The chart is the most recent interactive population graphic based on census data that the organization has released as part of a series titled "America's Tomorrow." Another was a U.S. map illustrating the changing racial makeup of counties as projected from 1990 to 2040.

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More on Latinos and race: The rise of the Latino 'American Indian'

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Car sticker seen on an L.A. freeway, February 2011

A recent post highlighted a Migration Policy Institute article that explored the origin of the “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish Origin” category on census forms, and in the 40 years that Latinos have been asked to identify in terms of Spanish origin, the varying ways in which they have also come to identify in terms of race.

The "Hispanic or Latino" category is an ethnic category, not a racial one. In the 2000 census, slightly under half of the 35.2 million Latinos counted reported their race as white. The rest of the racial categories they can choose from may or may not apply. Not surprisingly perhaps, 43 percent of Latinos in 2000 identified themselves as “other race.”

But a fascinating piece in the New York Times this weekend reported a rise in the number of Latinos identifying themselves as "American Indian" in the 2010 census. From the story:

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