Data Tracker

As shutdown continues, Latin American immigration to California remains near modern low

Extending a trend that has lasted nearly a decade, fewer than 80,000 Latin American immigrants came to California in 2017, a sharp drop from the number seen in in the 1990s and early 2000s, new census estimates show.

The number of immigrants from Asia to California now dwarfs the number of immigrants from Latin America to California.

The federal government is shut down as President Donald Trump battles with Congress over funding for a border wall. Earlier this week, Trump tweeted, “The problem is, without a Wall there can be no real Border Security - and our Country must finally have a Strong and Secure Southern Border!”

The census figures do not delineate between legal and unauthorized immigrants. Recent data from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center showed that the number of unauthorized immigrants in California fell by about 550,000 from 2007 to 2016, largely due to a decline in immigrants from Mexico.

Most California immigrants from Latin America have lived in the United States for more than 20 years, census estimates show.

Latin American immigration to California fell to its modern low of about 51,000 in 2012, then grew to around 79,000 in 2016 before falling to about 67,000 in 2017, census estimates show. The state has not seen more than 80,000 Latin American immigrants in a single year since 2008.

Texas now sees more Latin American immigrants each year than California. Parts of California, particularly around San Diego, have more fencing than what is found in Texas, though the Rio Grande serves as a natural barrier across much of Texas. According to Pew, Texas’ unauthorized immigrant population has remained essentially flat during the last decade, as California’s has fallen.

China now sends more immigrants to California each year than Mexico. The number of immigrants arriving from Mexico has dropped by about 40,000, or more than 50 percent, in the last decade. Some of that decline has been mitigated by a rise in immigration from El Salvador. About 9,000 Salvadorans arrived in California last year, up from about 3,000 a decade ago, census estimates show.

Phillip Reese is a data specialist at the Sacramento Bee and teaches at Sacramento State: 916-321-1137
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