Introducing a great new report about immigration and naturalization by the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California.
As California prepares to implement federal immigration reform, our new report –“What’s at Stake for the State” — paints a multi-hued picture of the state’s 2.6 million unauthorized Californians, providing data at the state and regional levels on their demographics, their potential income gains, and how to make the most of their authorization.
The new data shows who undocumented Californians are: their jobs, income levels, families. They are nearly 7% of California’s total population, 8% of all adults and 9% of the state’s workforce. Nearly half have lived here more than 10 years. And perhaps most significantly, one in six California kids have at least one undocumented parent and more than three-fourths of those kids are citizens.
The report also estimates the economic benefit of legalization and naturalization for undocumented Californians – by state and region. We estimate that annual aggregate income of the currently undocumented will increase by $4.6 to $7.9 billion. And, since undocumented workers tend to be lower-income, they will spend their paycheck rather than putting it into savings – meaning a strong multiplier effect on local economies.
But to get at these gains will require a clear and quick roadmap to citizenship. Also, federal immigration reform needs to take immigrant integration seriously. And, the day after reform, we will need to invest in programs to raise education levels, increase English fluency and improve job skills as a way to maximize the potential of undocumented Californians and build a stronger state.
The report is authored by Manuel Pastor (Director, USC CSII) and Enrico A. Marcelli (Demographer, Department of Sociology, San Diego State University) building off a methodology originally pioneered by Marcelli. “What’s at Stake for the State” is the first report to estimate undocumented Californians at this breadth and level of detail.