Undocumented immigrants are shunning California in favor of Texas, with the Lone Star State’s undocumented population growing nearly five times as fast as California’s, new federal data show.
About 2.9 million undocumented immigrants lived in California during 2014, according to new estimates from the Department of Homeland Security.
The undocumented population in California grew steadily from 2000 to 2008, dropped sharply during the 2007 recession, rose again and remained essentially flat from 2011 to 2014.
Overall, California’s unauthorized immigrant population grew by 16 percent from 2000 through 2014.
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The undocumented population in Texas, by comparison, grew by 75 percent from 2000 through 2014. Texas was home to about 1.9 million undocumented residents in 2014.
A few factors explain the trend. The federal government beefed up enforcement near San Diego during a controversial, mid-1990s program called Operation Gatekeeper. The operation, along with the high cost of living in much of California, pushed illegal immigration to weaker points east along the border. In 2015, the Border Patrol apprehended almost six times as many immigrants at the Texas border as they did at the California border.