IMMIGRANT SERVICES

Driver's Licenses

Who Are California’s Unauthorized?

06.20.2014

BEHIND THE NUMBERS:

No Census survey or administrative process produces definitive statistics on the number of people residing in the United States without authorization. There is no official portrait that depicts characteristics like nationality or education. Instead researchers produce estimates largely relying on a single methodology that basically starts out with the total population and subtracts the number of people known to be citizens or legal immigrants to arrive a residual number that can be manipulated in several ways to generate estimates of the unauthorized population. As a result, all available numbers are subject to wide margins of error, and the more specific the date, the greater the uncertainty.

Total unauthorized population of California: 2.8 million

  • About 25% of the nation’s unauthorized (11.4 million total).
  • About 7% of California residents, 8% of adults and 9% of the workforce.
  • The number in California and nationwide has remained roughly stable since the
    end of the Great Recession in 2009. Estimates for 2010 and 2011 were 2.6 million.

 

More in SoCal but the unauthorized live throughout CA

Estimates for total unauthorized by county or region (CSII, 2013):

Los Angeles County: 900,000 Bay Area: 387,000
Orange County: 237,000 Sacramento Metro: 83,000
San Diego County: 180,000 Central Valley: 332,000
Inland Empire: 260,000

 

Overwhelmingly Mexican, some Central Americans, few Asians

piechartFig1

Source: USC CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF IMMIGRANT INTEGRATION, 2013

LARGEST ASIAN COMMUNITIES OF UNAUTHORIZED:

Bay Area: 60,000 – 16% of total unauthorized – Philippines, China, India

Los Angeles County: 70,000 – 8% of total unauthorized – Philippines, Korea, China

Orange County: 30,000 – 13% of total unauthorized – Korea, Vietnam, Philippines

 

Resources

Department of Homeland Security: Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2012 (March 2013). This is the basic source for data at the national level.

USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration: What’s at Stake of the State: Undocumented Californians, Immigration Reform, and Our Future Together (May 2013)Offering an assessment of the potential impact of legalization, this report includes the most detailed estimates available on the unauthorized in California with major characteristics of communities in various regions of the state.

The Public Policy Institute of California: Undocumented Immigrants (February 2013)A fact sheet with a variety of estimates. Available also in Spanish.


About this project

The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, a university research center with the mission to address the challenges and opportunities of demographic diversity in the 21st century global city, has produced these featured digital publications using the USC Media Curator, an online publishing platform designed to bring together innovative research from across the University of Southern California and beyond. This project curates research relevant for immigrant service providers on the topics of Access & Use of TechnologyAccess & Use of Financial ServicesNotario Fraud, and Driver's Licenses for the unauthorized.

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