Nearly 1 in 10 California Workers Are in Country Illegally, Study Finds

Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2014

A report released Wednesday by researchers at USC found that immigrants who are in California illegally make up nearly 10% of the state’s workforce and contribute $130 billion annually to its gross domestic product.

The study, which was conducted in conjunction with the California Immigrant Policy Center, was based on census data and other statistics, including data from the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security. It looked at a variety of ways the estimated 2.6 million immigrants living in California without permission participate in state life.

Among the study’s findings:

  • Immigrants who are in California illegally make up 38% of the agriculture industry and 14% of the construction industry statewide.
  • Half of the immigrants in the state illegally have been here for at least 10 years.
  • Roughly 58% do not have health insurance.
  • Nearly three in four live in households that include U.S. citizens.


But those who call for stricter enforcement of existing immigration laws say assessments of immigrants’ share of the GDP does not account for the large cost governments incur in providing schools and other services to immigrants here without permission.

Steven Camarota, of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors stricter restrictions on immigration, also said that bigger economies are not necessarily better.

“A bigger economy doesn’t mean the people are richer,” he said.


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