During most years since 2004, California has been the top state for illegal immigration. California shares a border with Mexico and this allows illegal workers from that nation and from other nations to enter the state. As well, California’s large size and large number of agricultural jobs makes it an attractive place for undocumented workers.
In many cases, workers are brought into California in order to provide a cheap labor force for farms and other industries. Undocumented workers work as fruit pickers, factory workers, and in other capacities. As well, some households in California make use of inexpensive undocumented labor to provide cleaning services.
California immigration has provoked a lot of commentary because of the obvious costs of illegal immigration in the state. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, California immigration accounts for one third of all immigration to the US. Immigrants account for 24.1% of California’s population, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, illegal immigration to California costs taxpayers of the state more than $9 billion each year in medical expenses, jail costs, and education costs.
Currently, there is a debate in California about denying basic services to illegal immigrants in the state. Today, illegal immigrants are ineligible for a driver’s license in California, but can still access health care through hospital emergency rooms as well as state-funded education. Some cities in California, notably San Francisco, have taken on a different attitude towards illegal immigration. San Francisco is known as a sanctuary city, not condemning illegal immigration and in fact proposing the idea of immigration amnesty.
As well, when it comes to illegal immigration to California, some local laws vary from official US immigration procedures. For example, while lawmakers have proposed changing California immigration laws to better enforce US immigration policies – by giving police the authority to check immigration status during arrests and stops – some cities committed to preventing illegal immigration to Florida have different policies in place.
The Los Angeles police department, for example, has a policy in place which does not allow officers to check whether someone is in the country illegally when responding to a call. This policy is in place to ensure that illegal immigrants do not fear police to the point where they permit crimes to take place out of fear or being deported.
The economy in California and the US has also had an impact on illegal US immigration and illegal immigration to California. According to studies, the total number of illegal immigrants crossing into California declined 3.8% through 2009, the first significant drop in nearly twenty years. Border security authorities claim that increased law enforcement and tougher US immigration laws have been deterring illegal California immigration, while other experts claim the change is due to higher fees by organized crime to smuggle people into the country as well as a poorer economy.