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Report: Immigrants Contribute $650 Billion To California Economy

Protesters rally for immigration reform outside of the federal building in do...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Protesters rally for immigration reform outside of the federal building in downtown San Francisco, May 1, 2006.

Immigrants contribute almost $650 billion to the California economy and $27 billion to the economies of San Diego and Imperial counties, according to a recent report.

Immigrants contribute about 31 percent to California’s gross domestic product, and 26 percent to the gross domestic product of San Diego and Imperial counties, according to a new report from the University of Southern California and advocacy group California Immigrant Policy Center.

In the San Diego area, immigrants without legal status contribute about 15 percent of the total immigrant share, nearly $4 billion.

Immigrants make up nearly one-third of the workforce in San Diego and Imperial counties. Immigrants without legal status make up 7 percent of the workforce and more than 30 percent of workers in agriculture, according to the report.

Researchers from USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration and from the California Immigrant Policy Center analyzed figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau and federal immigration authorities to compile the report.

The authors also found that 71 percent of noncitizen residents of San Diego and Imperial counties live in mixed status households, meaning some members are citizens and others are not. Jared Sanchez, the report’s lead author, said the children in mixed status households are often the citizens.

In terms of civic participation, the number of immigrants eligible to vote in the San Diego area is growing. Still, nearly 1 in 7 voting-age residents are ineligible to vote because they lack citizenship.

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