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California Remains A State Of Immigrants

A new snapshot of California's immigrants shows a population that's large, working age and mostly legal.

California remains a state of immigrants, being the home to one quarter of the nation's foreign-born residents.

A study, called Immigrants in California, was done by the Public Policy Institute of California. It was based on 2015 Census Bureau data, the most recent year available.

The study said California has 10 million immigrants, which is a quarter of all foreign-born residents in the U.S. Though slightly more than half of all immigrants come from Latin American, recent arrivals (between 2011 and 2015) are much more likely to come from Asia.

Photo caption: A Public Policy Institute of California chart showing immigration trends in C...

Photo credit: Public Policy Institute of California

A Public Policy Institute of California chart showing immigration trends in California.

Eighty percent of California immigrants are working-age adults.

"That indicates that people are here to work," said Joe Hayes, a researcher at the Public Policy Institute. "Work opportunities continue to be the operating factor in drawing people here. And as a counter example, since the great recession, we've seen net immigration slow considerably to California."

The slowdown of immigration growth is the flip side of a report that shows a robust foreign-born population.

In the 1990s, the study says, California’s immigrant population grew by 37 percent or 2.4 million. But in the past 10 years, the increase was only 11 percent, or just over 1 million.

The study says most immigrants are here legally. Forty-nine percent are naturalized citizens and 26 percent have some other legal status, such as a green card or a visa. Immigrants in the state illegally make up 25 percent of the immigrant population.

"A good 34 percent of working age adults in California are immigrants working in a variety of industries," said Hayes. "It's self-evident that they are a integral part of our economy."

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