E.g., 09/19/2018
E.g., 09/19/2018

Profile of the Unauthorized Population - CA

Profile of the Unauthorized Population:

DemographicsEstimate% of Total
Unauthorized Population3,019,000100%
Top Countries of Birth
El Salvador114,0004%
Regions of Birth
Mexico and Central America2,498,00083%
South America40,0001%
Years of U.S. Residence
Less than 5391,00013%
5 to 9612,00020%
10 to 14754,00025%
15 to 19543,00018%
20 or more720,00024%
Under 16208,0007%
16 to 24399,00013%
25 to 34768,00025%
35 to 44771,00026%
45 to 54491,00016%
55 and over383,00013%
FamilyEstimate% of Total
Parental Status
Population ages 15 and older2,843,000100%
Reside with at least one U.S.-citizen child under 18975,00034%
Reside with noncitizen children only under 18130,0005%
Reside with no children 1,739,00061%
Marital Status
Population ages 15 and older2,843,000100%
Never married1,153,00041%
Married to a U.S. citizen224,0008%
Married to a legal permanent resident (LPR)168,0006%
Married to non-U.S. citizen/non-LPR746,00026%
Divorced, separated, widowed553,00019%
Education and LanguageEstimate% of Total
School Enrollment of Children and Youth
Population ages 3 to 17 271,000 100%
Enrolled 252,000 93%
Not enrolled 19,000 7%
Population ages 3 to 12119,000100%
Not enrolled10,0008%
Population ages 13 to 17152,000100%
Not enrolled9,0006%
Population ages 18 to 24329,000100%
Not enrolled226,00069%
Educational Attainment of Adults
Population ages 25 and older2,413,000100%
0-5 grade379,00016%
6-8 grade547,00023%
9-12 grade455,00019%
High school diploma or GED516,00021%
Some college or associate’s degree275,00011%
Bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree240,00010%
English Proficiency
Population ages 5 and older3,004,000100%
Speak only English132,0004%
Speak English "very well"635,00021%
Speak English "well"618,00021%
Speak English "not well"/"not at all"1,619,00054%
Top 5 Languages Spoken at Home
Population ages 5 and older3,004,000100%
Tagalog/other Filipino73,0002%
WorkforceEstimate% of Total
Labor Force Participation
Civilian population ages 16 and older2,811,000100%
Not in the labor force867,00031%
Top Industries of Employment*
Civilian employed population ages 16 and older2,090,000100%
Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services324,00015%
Professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management269,00013%
EconomicsEstimate% of Total
Family Income
Below 50% of the poverty level389,00013%
50-99% of the poverty level570,00019%
100-149% of the poverty level561,00019%
150-199% of the poverty level464,00015%
At or above 200% of the poverty level1,036,00034%
Access to Health Insurance
Home Ownership**


Source: Migration Policy Institute (MPI) analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from the 2014 American Community Survey (ACS), 2010-2014 ACS pooled, and the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) by 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
* “Top Industries of Employment” are those in which unauthorized immigrants were employed at the time of the survey or during the last five years. “Other services” are miscellaneous services, not including the following services listed separately: (1) professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services; (2) educational, health and social services; and (3) arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services.

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

  1. “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.
  2. For languages, "Chinese" includes Mandarin, Cantonese, and other Chinese languages; “English” includes English, Jamaican Creole, Krio, and Pidgin Krio; "French" includes French, Patois, French or Haitian Creole, and Cajun; “Hindi and related” includes Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Sindhi, Sinhalese, and Kannada; “Sub-Saharan African” includes Bantu, Swahili, Mande, Fulani, Kru, and other African languages; “Tagalog/Other Filipino” includes Tagalog, Bisayan, Sebuano, Llocano, and Hocano.
  3.  “-“ estimates are zero, not applicable, or not displayed due to small sample size.
  4. Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Methodology in Brief:
In the SIPP, noncitizens report whether they currently have 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), Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries, 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, TPS, and the other temporary classifications. This method was developed by Jennifer Van Hook of The Pennsylvania State University and James Bachmeier of Temple University. 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: Migration Policy Institute, 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.