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Government & Politics

New Data: Nearly One In Ten California Workers Is Undocumented

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PPIC
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Undocumented immigrats by zip code. Calculations using IRS tax data from the Brookings Institution, population data from the American Community Survey, and statewide undocumented population estimates from the Center for Migration Studies. Data from 2013.

It's difficult to tally a population that lives in the shadows, but new data estimates that 2.7 million immigrants are living illegally in California. That's more than any other state in the nation.

The majority of California's undocumented immigrants arrive from Latin America, and specifically Mexico. Laura Hill is a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. She expects that trend to continue. 

Hill: “As long as there's still a big wage disparity between Mexico and the United States, or any neighboring country, or any country that's it's possible to get to from the United States there will be a pull for some folks to make that move.”

She says the majority of people immigrating illegally are men who are seeking work. 

But, she says unauthorized immigrants are all ages, and come from all over the world -- including Asia, Canada, and Europe.

Nearly every county in the state has an unauthorized population.

Hill: “The county with the most, as is usually the case with most everything in California is Los Angeles.”

Orange, San Diego and Santa Clara counties also have large populations.

Undocumented immigrants work predominantly in the hospitality industry and construction.

The Pew Hispanic Center reports that nearly one in ten workers in California is undocumented.