San Diego County maintains the third largest population of unauthorized immigrants in California and the seventh largest in the United States, according to a new report by the Migration Policy Institute.
An estimated 205,000 unauthorized immigrants are living in the region, the report said, an increase of about 24,000 since the institute released its last tally in January.
Researchers used more recent data for their latest estimate, but they cautioned not to read too much into the increase. The information was gathered using surveys, so the count isn’t precise, they said.
The overall population of unauthorized immigrants nationwide has stabilized, they said.
While a significant portion of unauthorized immigrants in San Diego County — about 77 percent — are from Mexico, researchers said one of the fastest growing groups hails from Asia.
About 14 percent of the region’s unauthorized immigrants are Asian, according to the study.
The unauthorized immigrant population is becoming increasingly diverse nationwide, said Marc Rosenblum, co-author of the report.
“What we see with unauthorized immigration is that people go to be reunited with their families. They go where they have social networks,” he said. “It’s not just a border phenomenon, it’s not just a Mexico phenomenon.”
Rosenblum said the U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in the unauthorized population from China, India and Korea.
The study, released this month by the Washington-based think tank, profiles the unauthorized immigrant population based on country of origin and region.
While the institute used 2008-2012 pooled data from the American Community Survey in January, this month’s estimate used the survey’s 2009-2013 data.
Researchers analyzed a population of 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the earlier period versus a population of 11 million today. Small adjustments to further refine the institute’s research model also led to minor changes, according to Michelle Mittelstadt, spokeswoman for the institute.
“When you’re trying to measure something that is clandestine to a certain degree, it’s very difficult to measure accurately,” said Paul Ganster, director of the Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias at San Diego State University.
“It’s just very difficult to measure anything that is in the shadows.”
Ganster said people often lose sight of the fact that many different ethnic groups comprise the local and national unauthorized immigrant population.
Many unauthorized immigrants come from oversees and overstay their visas, he said.
“I think these unfortunate stereotypes about the southern border and about migration from Mexico and Central America really obscure the reality and the discussions of facts,” he said.
Rosenblum said authorized immigrants account for 6.4 percent of the overall county population.
There are 1,062,000 unauthorized immigrants in Los Angeles County and an estimated 274,000 in Orange County, according to the most recent report. In January, an estimated 980,000 lived in the Los Angeles region and about 313,000 lived in Orange County.
Robert Warren, a demographer of more than 40 years and a fellow with the Center for Migration Studies of New York, developed a database profiling the unauthorized immigrant population.
Warren said it’s important to note that the unauthorized population in the U.S. has declined by an estimated one million people since 2011 and has stabilized overall.
Migration from Mexico has dropped starkly, according to Warren.
“Unauthorized immigration from Mexico has dropped absolutely dramatically since 2000 and especially since 2005. It’s just gone off the table,” he said.
Researchers also found that Mexicans and Central Americans make up a significant percentage of the population eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama administration program that grants unauthorized immigrant youth temporary stay in the U.S., so long as they meet specific requirements.
Up to 1.6 million unauthorized immigrants are eligible to apply to the DACA program nationwide, with an estimated 60 percent of those people coming from Mexico, according to the report.
Immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras are eligible — and subsequently apply — at exceedingly high rates. Asians however, have much lower application rates despite being eligible.
Author: Tatiana Sanchez
Source: San Diego Union Tribune