Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Report: With 2.6 million unauthorized, California has a big stake in immigration debate

A new report estimates that about nine percent of California's workforce is unauthorized.
A new report estimates that about nine percent of California's workforce is unauthorized.
David McNew/Getty Images

California has a great deal at stake as immigration reform is debated in Congress, a new report from the University of Southern California argues.

The state is home to more than 10.3 million immigrants, an estimated 2.6 million of whom are in the U.S. illegally. This is close to one-fourth of the nation's estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants. In California, these immigrants make up 7 percent of the state's overall population, 8 percent of its adults, and 9 percent of the workforce.

In Los Angeles County, unauthorized immigrants account for 9 percent of the population, a figure that's in line with previous estimates

The report from USC's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration takes a look specifically at who these California residents are and how a path to legal status would affect their prospects, along with the state's. A few highlights: 

The report's authors argue that integrating California's unauthorized immigrants via a path to legal status will improve not just their lot, but that of successive generations, allowing their children to live better and contribute more to the economy.

They also say that access to health care and programs that raise "human capital" — such as English classes, educational and other opportunities — will be essential to these immigrants' success if they're given the chance to adjust their status. 

The Senate is expected to begin the amendment process for its immigration reform bill later this week, while additional bills are expected soon from the House.