Recency of Arrival: Though immigration has slowed nationwide, California continues to be home to large communities of both new and long-settled immigrants.
Each indicator page features a series of charts, insights and analysis, case studies, and related indicators.
Insights and Analyses
The length of residency of California’s immigrant population varies by racial group. Data from 2019 showed that among Latino immigrants, a larger share (about 60%) moved to the U.S. more than 20 years ago. Among Black immigrants, a larger share (60%) immigrated to the U.S. within the past 20 years.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, in 2020, approximately 705,000 Haitian migrants lived in the U.S., many of whom have created a home in this country for years.
The Migration Policy Institute estimated that approximately 5.9 million refugees and other migrants from Afghanistan lived outside their country as of 2020. Of this population, approximately 2% of Afghan migrants have settled in the U.S.
Undocumented immigrants, many who are long-settled and have established families and networks, face the imminent threat of deportation. In 2019, about 68% of undocumented Californians had been living in the U.S. for more than a decade.
Length of residency impacts an individual’s likelihood and eligibility to naturalize, which can explain why a large share of the naturalized population has been living in the U.S. for many years. Statewide, as of 2019, about 48% of naturalized citizens had been living in the U.S. for more than 30 years.
The Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice’s (ICIJ) rapid response network provides services and resources to refugees released from detention.
In May of 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began busing detained refugees to the downtown San Bernardino Greyhound station and dropping them off without any resources. The Executive Director of ICIJ, Javier Hernandez, describes how their Rapid Response Network became involved in the refugee migration crisis in the Inland Valley: “It was May 14th when the drop-offs of refugees at Greyhound station [by ICE] began. I believe the first day was about 10 to 15 people… On the 17th, there were 68, and the highest number of drop-offs we saw was 72 people in one day. At that point, we activated our network.” In response, the ICIJ activated their rapid response network to coordinate support, deliver food, and create shelters. Within one day, a local church opened their doors and over 100 volunteers showed up to help. “What we’re going to do is where [the administration] wants to create chaos, we’re going to welcome people, and we’re going to create a shelter, and we’re going to welcome people and give them the dignity and respect that they deserve, and that’s how we got involved with the migrant situation in San Bernardino,” said Hernandez. ICIJ continues to provide services and advance immigrant justice in the Inland Valley through policy advocacy, community organizing and education, and rapid response to ICE and border patrol operations. More recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ICIJ coordinated the Immigrant Liberation Fund to assist detained immigrants who are at higher risk of contracting the virus and have been released from the Adelanto Detention Center on bond, but are still detained because they are unable to afford to pay the bond. Learn more about the organization, the network, and their work with immigrants and refugees here.
Photo credit: Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice
Title 42, a little-known section of U.S. health law, has been used to violently expel Haitian immigrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, continuing the history of racism and exclusion in immigration policy that targets Black immigrants.
Since March of 2020, Title 42 has been used to deny refugees and asylum seekers entry to the U.S. under the pretense of public health concerns amidst COVID-19. Although public health experts have continued to insist that public health protocols can be enacted to safely process the entry of refugees and asylum seekers, Title 42 continued to be enforced under the Biden administration with some modifications. This has contributed to the deportations of thousands of Central American, Haitian, and Mexican immigrants who are denied the right to apply for asylum. An analysis by the Associated Press on apprehensions of Haitian migrants at the U.S. border, including Title 42 expulsions, reveals a significant increase in the number of apprehensions between Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 (166) and FY 2020 (4,531). The same analysis showed that between October 2018 and June 2021, among asylum decision data for 84 nationalities, asylum seekers from Haiti had the lowest rate of accepted asylum requests (under 5%). On April 1, 2022 the Biden administration issued a termination to Title 42, yet the decision has been challenged in court. As of May 20th, termination of the rule has been blocked by a Louisiana federal judge.
In 2021, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, The Quixote Center, and The UndocuBlack Network published, The Invisible Wall, a report detailing the history of Title 42 and the life-threatening impacts on Haitian immigrants. The report highlights the story of Roseline, a Haitian mother and wife who left Haiti in 2016 after being assaulted due to her political affiliations. During this dangerous journey, she gave birth to her son in Mexico and in February 2021 arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border. Even after this treacherous journey, a few days later, she was expelled under Title 42. While in the U.S., she was detained for 11 days where she was denied the option to speak with an immigration officer, access to counsel, translated documents and information, and access to basic necessities such as a shower or clothes for her baby. Living in Haiti, Roseline and her family are in hiding, unable to leave the house as they fear for their lives. Still, they hope to seek asylum in the U.S. once again after the Title 42 policy is terminated.
In direct response to this continued violence and discrimination against Black immigrants, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) along with other groups organized a national week of action in early 2022 to continue to demand protections for Black immigrants seeking asylum, which included rescinding Title 42. While Title 42 is only an example of the most recent policy targeting Black immigrants, it is important to note the history of these exclusionary immigration policies. As explained in an article by The Washington Post: in 1970 the U.S. initiated a process by which Haitian asylum seekers were targeted for deportation; the U.S. has denied Haitians the opportunity to enter the U.S. to escape oppressive regimes; and attempted to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti. To read the Haitian Bridge Alliance, The Quixote Center, and The UndocuBlack Network’s full report, click here. Read El Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración (“Institute for Women in Migration”) and BAJI’s report on the anti-Black racism faced by African migrants traveling through Mexico and to the U.S. here. To learn more about the criminalization that Black immigrants experience once in the U.S., read BAJI’s report here and a joint report with the USC Equity Research Institute's on the State of Black Immigrants in California, here.
Photo credit: Defend Black Immigrants, The All-Nite Images, Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)
- San Diego County Refugee Experiences Report
- “There is a Target on Us” The Impact of Anti-Black Racism on African Migrants at Mexico’s Southern Border
- The Invisible Wall: Title 42 and its Impact on Haitian Migrants
- Measuring In Absentia Removal in Immigration Court
- Failing Our Liberian Neighbors: Eligibility and Application Rates Under Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness
- “You Will Never See Your Child Again:" The Persistent Psychological Effects of Family Separation
- A Brief Overview of Black Immigrant Women and Girls in the U.S.
- The Detention of Immigrant Children with Disabilities in California: A Snapshot
- The Science is Clear: Separating Families has Long-term Damaging Psychological and Health Consequences for Children, Families, and Communities
- Migrants, Recently Arrived in US, Grapple With Immigration Barriers
- Family separations at the border continue under Biden
- ‘We Can’t Claim Mission Accomplished’: A Long Road for Afghan Refugees
- GOP governors sent buses of migrants to D.C. and NYC – with no plan for what’s next
- As California Welcomes Ukrainian Refugees, Counties Fall Short on Interpreters
- Recent Supreme Court Decisions Erode Migrants’ Rights
- Five Years Later, Work of Reuniting Families Separated at US-Mexico Border Remains Unfinished
- Family Separation: A Timeline
- Black Immigrants in the United States Face Hurdles, but Outcomes Vary by City
- Black immigrants push for protections as Juneteenth is honored
- Zapotec in 90006, K’iche’ in 90057: New map highlights L.A.’s Indigenous communities
- Children Spend Days In Crude Facilities As U.S. Border Resources Overwhelmed Again
- The Long Shadow of Family Separation
- A Translation Crisis at the Border: For migrants who speak Mayan languages, a grassroots group of interpreters is often their only hope for receiving asylum
- Climate Change is Altering Migration Patterns Regionally and Globally
- The Thousands of Children Who Go To Immigration Court Alone