Historically, California has been a popular destination for immigrants. In 2010, California had the highest foreign-born share of 27 percent of its population. This is in line with the tendency of the foreign-born population to settle in the western and southern regions of the U.S (U.S Census Bureau).
However, recent trends in immigration movements show that California’s popularity has been declining among new entrants (Bohn 2009). First the increase in state bills related to immigration (more than 1200 states bills proposed nationwide) had an effect on reducing illegal immigration. Second, for the past ten years the state has generally seen negative net migration, in addition to negative domestic migration since 2005. As one of the states hit hardest by the recession, as seen with relatively high unemployment and foreclosure rates, California’s pronounced economic decline could have forced out new immigrants as well as established immigrants and native-born residents to seek better prospects in other states.
EXHIBIT 1 The shift in California’s source of population growth also reflects this recent immigration trend. Since 2000, net migration has contributed less and less to population growth in the state. As of 2005, the source of growth shifted from net migration to purely natural increases in population.