California has more immigrants than any other state.
California is home to more than 10 million immigrants—one in four of the foreign-born population nationwide. In 2011, 27% of California’s population was foreign-born, about twice the U.S. percentage. Foreign-born residents represented more than 30% of the population of seven California counties: Santa Clara, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Mateo, Imperial, Alameda, and Orange. And half of the children in California had at least one immigrant parent.
Most immigrants in California are documented residents.
Almost half (47%) of California’s immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens, and another 26% have some other legal status (including green cards and visas). According to the Department of Homeland Security, about 27% of immigrants in California are undocumented.
Immigration to California has slowed.
The state’s immigrant population increased by only 15% (1.3 million) in the 2000s, compared to 37% (2.4 million) in the 1990s. This decline in international immigration has been a contributing factor in the slowdown of California’s overall population growth.
Most immigrants in California come from Latin America, but recent arrivals are primarily from Asia.
The vast majority of California’s immigrants were born in Latin America (53%) and Asia (37%). California has sizeable populations of immigrants from dozens of countries; Mexico (4.3 million), the Philippines (812,000), and China (760,700) are the leading countries of origin. However, more than half (53%) of those arriving in the state between 2007 and 2011were born in Asia; only 31% came from Latin America.
Most immigrants in California are working-age adults …
About eight of every ten immigrants (81%) in California are working-age adults (age 18 to 64), compared to four of every seven (57%) U.S.-born California residents. This means that more than a third (34%) of working-age adults in the state are immigrants.
… and are likely to be on either end of the education spectrum.
In 2011, 37% of California’s immigrants age 25 and older had not completed high school, compared to 9% of U.S.-born California residents. A quarter of California’s foreign-born residents had attained at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to a third of U.S.-born residents. Foreign-born residents accounted for 72% of all high school dropouts in the state and 31% of college-educated residents. But recent immigrants and immigrants from Asia tend to have very high levels of educational attainment. Almost half (47%) of foreign-born residents who came to the state between 2007 and 2011—and 60% of those who came from Asia—had bachelor’s degrees or more.
Immigrants are more likely than U.S.-born residents to be employed but make less money.
California’s foreign-born residents are more likely to be in the civilian labor force than U.S.-born residents: in 2011, 66% of immigrants were in the labor force, compared to 62% of the U.S-born. They are also more likely to be employed (59% compared to 54%). However, the median income for households with foreign-born householders in 2011 was 20.9% lower than that for households with U.S-born householders ($48,851 compared to $61,752). And foreign-born residents are more likely than the U.S.-born to live in poverty (18.9% compared to 15.7%).
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau Decennial Censuses, American Community Survey, and the Department of Homeland Security.