Capitol Alert

California’s illegal immigrant population drops, still largest

In this Monday, March 25, 2013 photo, Border Patrol agent Richard Gordon walks the border fence in the Boulevard area east of San Diego looking for signs that reveal movement of illegal immigrants in the rugged, mountainous terrain in Boulevard, Calif.
In this Monday, March 25, 2013 photo, Border Patrol agent Richard Gordon walks the border fence in the Boulevard area east of San Diego looking for signs that reveal movement of illegal immigrants in the rugged, mountainous terrain in Boulevard, Calif. AP

California still has, by far, the nation’s largest population of illegal immigrants, but it declined between 2009 and 2012, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

The overall number of illegal immigrants in the nation was virtually unchanged at 11.3 million in 2012, Pew said, but it increased in seven states while declining in California and 13 other states, largely due to a sharp drop in immigration from Mexico.

The estimated drop in California was fairly scant, down 50,000 to 2.45 million, about 6.4 percent of the state’s overall population. However, Pew says illegal immigrants are 9.4 percent of California’s labor force, second only to Nevada’s 10.2 percent.

Those numbers give California a major stake in President Barack Obama’s stated intention to legalize several million illegal immigrants by executive action because Congress has not enacted immigration reform.

Call The Bee’s Dan Walters, (916) 321-1195. Back columns, www.sacbee.com/walters. Follow him on Twitter

@WaltersBee.

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