E.g., 08/15/2020
E.g., 08/15/2020

Profile of the Unauthorized Population - County Data

Profile of the Unauthorized Population:
San Diego County, CA

DemographicsEstimate% of Total
Unauthorized Population 211,000 100%
Top Countries of Birth
Mexico 161,000 76%
Philippines 14,000 7%
China 4,000 2%
Vietnam 3,000 1%
Guatemala 3,000 1%
Regions of Birth
Mexico and Central America 167,000 79%
South America 2,000 1%
Europe/Canada/Oceania 8,000 4%
Asia 32,000 15%
Years of U.S. Residence
Less than 5 30,000 14%
5 to 9 35,000 17%
10 to 14 45,000 21%
15 to 19 34,000 16%
20 or more 66,000 31%
Under 16 14,000 6%
16 to 24 28,000 13%
25 to 34 48,000 23%
35 to 44 51,000 24%
45 to 54 38,000 18%
55 and over 33,000 16%
Female 110,000 52%
FamilyEstimate% of Total
Parental Status
Population ages 15 and older 200,000 100%
Reside with at least one U.S.-citizen child under 18 58,000 29%
Reside with noncitizen children only under 18 15,000 7%
Reside with no children 127,000 64%
Marital Status
Population ages 15 and older 200,000 100%
Never married 72,000 36%
Married to a U.S. citizen 26,000 13%
Married to a legal permanent resident (LPR) 12,000 6%
Married to non-U.S. citizen/non-LPR 44,000 22%
Divorced, separated, widowed 46,000 23%
Education and LanguageEstimate% of Total
School Enrollment of Children and Youth
Population ages 3 to 17 19,000 100%
Enrolled 18,000 95%
Not enrolled--
Population ages 3 to 12 8,000 100%
Enrolled 7,000 93%
Not enrolled--
Population ages 13 to 17 12,000 100%
Enrolled 11,000 96%
Not enrolled--
Population ages 18 to 24 22,000 100%
Enrolled 10,000 46%
Not enrolled 12,000 54%
Educational Attainment of Adults
Population ages 25 and older 170,000 100%
0-5 grade 20,000 12%
6-8 grade 33,000 19%
9-12 grade 36,000 21%
High school diploma or GED 33,000 20%
Some college or associate’s degree 26,000 15%
Bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree 23,000 13%
English Proficiency
Population ages 5 and older 210,000 100%
Speak only English 17,000 8%
Speak English "very well" 59,000 28%
Speak English "well" 43,000 21%
Speak English "not well"/"not at all" 90,000 43%
Top 5 Languages Spoken at Home
Population ages 5 and older 210,000 100%
Spanish 161,000 77%
English 17,000 8%
Tagalog 12,000 6%
Chinese 4,000 2%
Vietnamese 3,000 1%
WorkforceEstimate% of Total
Labor Force Participation
Civilian population ages 16 and older 197,000 100%
Employed 124,000 63%
Unemployed 10,000 5%
Not in the labor force 63,000 32%
Top Industries of Employment
Civilian employed population ages 16 and older 124,000 100%
Accommodation and food services, arts, entertainment, and recreation 28,000 23%
Professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services 21,000 17%
Construction 14,000 11%
Retail trade 14,000 11%
Other services (except public administration) 14,000 11%
EconomicsEstimate% of Total
Family Income
Below 50% of the poverty level 24,000 11%
50-99% of the poverty level 32,000 15%
100-149% of the poverty level 40,000 19%
150-199% of the poverty level 33,000 16%
At or above 200% of the poverty level 82,000 39%
Access to Health Insurance
Uninsured 103,000 49%
Home Ownership*
Homeowner 55,000 26%


Source: Migration Policy Institute (MPI) analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from the pooled 2012-16 American Community Survey (ACS) and the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), drawing on a methodology developed in consultation with James Bachmeier of Temple University and Jennifer Van Hook of The Pennsylvania State University, Population Research Institute.

Note: For U.S., state, and county estimates of the unauthorized population potentially eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, click here.

Data-related notes
* “Homeowners” are unauthorized immigrants residing in homes that are owned, not rented.

+ Includes the following Colorado counties: Adams, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, and Jefferson, as well as portions of Arapahoe, Boulder, and Weld counties.

++ NECTAs refer to New England City and Town Areas, geographic entities defined by the U.S. Census Bureau for use as alternatives to counties in the six-state New England region.

  1. Estimate for China includes Hong Kong but excludes Taiwan; estimate for Korea includes South Korea and North Korea.
  2. “School Enrollment of Children and Youth” refers to unauthorized immigrants who reported attending school or college at any time in the three months prior to the survey.
  3. For languages, “Chinese” includes Mandarin, Cantonese, and other Chinese languages; “English” includes English, Jamaican Creole, Krio, Pidgin Krio, and other English-based Creole languages; “French” includes French, Patois, and Cajun; “Pacific Island languages” includes Ilocano, Samoan, Hawaiian, Sebuano, Chamorro, Guamanian, Marshallese, Trukese, Tongan, and other Austronesian languages, but excludes Tagalog and Filipino, which are reported separately; “Portuguese” includes Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole; “Sub-Saharan African” includes Swahili or other Bantu languages, Mande, Fulani, Kru, and other unspecified African languages; “Tagalog” includes Tagalog and Filipino.
  4. For industries, “Other services” are miscellaneous services, not including the following services listed separately: (1) professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services; (2) educational services; (3) health and social services; and (4) accommodation and food services, arts, entertainment, and recreation.
  5.  “-” estimates are zero, not applicable, or not displayed due to small sample size.
  6. Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Methodology in Brief:
MPI’s method uses information from the SIPP to assign legal status to noncitizens in the ACS. In the SIPP, noncitizens report whether they currently have lawful permanent resident (LPR) status—i.e., a green card. Those without LPR status may be recent refugees, temporary visitors (e.g., students or high-skilled H-1B workers), or unauthorized immigrants. Our method maps characteristics such as country of birth, year of U.S. entry, age, gender, and educational attainment between the two surveys, and those noncitizens in the ACS who have characteristics similar to those reporting LPR status in the SIPP are coded as LPRs in the ACS. The remaining noncitizens—who are similar in characteristics to those not reporting LPR status in the SIPP—are classified as either unauthorized or legal temporary migrants, depending on whether they meet the qualifications for H-1B and the other temporary visa classifications. This method was developed in consultation with James Bachmeier of Temple University and Jennifer Van Hook of The Pennsylvania State University, Population Research Institute. For more detail on the methods, see Jeanne Batalova, Sarah Hooker, Randy Capps, and James D. Bachmeier, DACA at the Two-Year Mark: A National and State Profile of Youth Eligible and Applying for Deferred Action (Washington, DC: MPI, 2014). Please note that these estimates use commonly accepted benchmarks from other research studies to determine the size of the unauthorized population and response rates to surveys. These estimates have the same sampling and coverage errors as any other survey-based estimates that rely on ACS and other Census Bureau data.