Los Angeles Times
By Corina Knoll
February 9, 2017
Nearly 10% of the nation’s 11.1 million immigrants who are in the country illegally reside in Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
The region is home to 1 million such immigrants, second only to the greater New York area, which has 1.2 million. Third on the list was Houston with 575,000. The city of Los Angeles alone has an estimated 375,000.
The data offer a stark sense of the stakes for Southern California and the rest of the nation as President Trump embarks on a crackdown on illegal immigration.
Up to 8 million people in the country illegally could be considered priorities for deportation, according to calculations by the Los Angeles Times. They were based on interviews with experts who studied the order and two internal documents that signal immigration officials are taking an expansive view of Trump’s directive.
Trump has said repeatedly that his new order allows immigration agents to detain nearly anyone they come in contact with who has crossed the border illegally. People could be taken into custody for using food stamps or if their child receives free school lunches.
The Pew analysis, using augmented 2014 data collected by the American Community Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, focused on the 20 major metropolitan areas with the highest numbers of immigrants here illegally. It showed that the population tends to live among legal immigrants and is highly concentrated.
In 2014, 61% of immigrants here illegally lived in the 20 metropolitan areas, whereas only 36% of the total U.S. population lived in the same regions. All except one of the areas remained in the top 20 over the previous decade.
Five of those — including Riverside, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose — were in California, a state at the forefront of the sanctuary movement, where leaders have insisted cities will continue to offer refuge to immigrants arriving illegally in the face of President Trump’s threat to cut their funds.
Quantifying populations based on geography can be enlightening, said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Research Center, a Washington-based nonprofit that describes itself as a nonpartisan fact tank.
“In general, if you ask people a demographic question having to do with numbers, they’re not very good at judging,” he said. “It might be something that area leaders and politicians would find useful to know that in Los Angeles about 22% of the immigrants in the area are unauthorized, but they’re not a majority. There are places like Houston and Dallas where it’s a lot higher.”
Although a large number of immigrants here illegally work in agriculture, Passel said, the numbers show that rural areas don’t offer as much employment as cities.
“You put this together with some of the things we’ve looked at before — they work in construction, service industries, leisure industries, restaurants, hotels — and in that sense it’s really maybe not surprising that they’re in these metro areas.”
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