When President Donald Trump was sworn into office several months ago, he appeared to be especially vocal about the process of limiting and reducing the number of immigrants coming into the United States. The building of a wall along the Mexican border has continued to raise a higher number of controversy than anticipated. According to the data published by Pew Research Center, California is one of the States in the US with the highest number of immigrants with a majority of those (about 70%) coming from Mexico (Passel and D’Vera, “Chapter 1”). One of the fears that President Trump’s immigrant’s policy is set to have included whether it will affect the economic and infrastructural development of some cities in Southern California. Claims have been submitted relating to the fact that immigrants crossing the Mexican border into California contribute significantly to the overall economy of the state. That is why the construction of the wall will impact greatly on California’s economy. The availability of different kinds of statistical data allows making reasonable judgments. This paper aims to find out what is the economic impact of the process and how immigration through the Mexican border affects the infrastructure in Southern California.

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Background of Immigration in California
The State of California has a long-lasting history of immigration. In the 1970s, the movement of people between Mexico and California was not much of a problem with most of them moving in and out, and in what was an orderly fashion. Young men in their 20s would work during the summer period picking avocados, peaches, or lettuce (see Fig. 3). They normally went home to Mexico at least twice a year during the Christmas season and Mother’s Day. When they went back to Mexico, the young men carried with them gifts to family members praising California for having plenty to offer. That influenced more and more members of the society to seek ventures across the border.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was signed by President Ronald Reagan in the late 1980s and made things even better, as those people that came to take part in seasonal agricultural work have finally achieved the ability to stay on legal grounds. Also, this act has legalized those illegal immigrants who entered the United States before 1982. These people were allowed to stay in the U.S. as long as they had proved that they could become good citizens. They were expected to prove that they are not guilty of any crimes and have enough knowledge on history and rules of the country. The notable thing here is that the President’s decision was partially influenced by some of the California farm groups. Business in the farms was thriving thanks to the increased number of workers from Mexico. However, there will always be those who do not endorse the current situation. Therefore, the changes were expected and almost inevitable.

Things have changed dramatically in the 1990s when California’s economy soared to unprecedented levels. Here, the thoughts began emerging among the residents that the resources are actually limited. Therefore, they started to perceive migration as a zero-sum game. Then, the governor, whose name was Wilson, started to promote the ideas of restrictions. His position has influenced the morphing of these thoughts. When he was reelected in 1994, things got worse with the championing of the Proposition 187. The provisions in the proposal would have seen illegal immigrants together with their children deprived of welfare, non-emergency health care, and education. Although there were people in California who voted for the measure, it still was declared as unconstitutional and thus struck down by a federal judge. In 1994, the President Bill Clinton has sent border patrol agents in their numbers, called for more fencing of the Mexican border as well as militarizing the San Diego border. All these were measures to curb illegal immigration. However, many of the illegal immigrants have changed root to pass the Arizona desert and finally settled in the Grand Canyon. Employees of firms in California sought their services a little later. Today, most people in California have mixed feelings about immigrants, but their economic impact remains undeniable.

Immigrants in California
As it was indicated earlier, California has the highest number of immigrants in the United States, with the majority coming from Latin America. This situation is mostly attributed to the proximity of the state to the Mexican border. As it can be seen from Table 1, the Mexican border is the area of land being 100 kilometers north and south of the international boundary and stretches along Texas in the East and California to the West at 3201 kilometers. Nowadays, around 12 million people live in this area, which is expected to double in ten years. This region is believed to have a high degree of dynamics, although at least part of its population suffers from poor health and social conditions, higher uninsured rates, high rates of migration, and a generally high rate of poverty.

Over the years, immigrants, both documented and undocumented, have used the border to cross over into California in search of security, jobs, and a better life, in general. Some of them continue to struggle, while others have flourished in business and employment. Currently, the total number of illegal immigrants in the State is around 2.4 million translating to around 6.3% of the California’s total population. These figures tend to indicate that out of every ten immigrants in the U.S, six live in California. In the article titled “More Undocumented Immigrants Live in Southern California Than Anywhere Else in U.S.,” the author states that in Southern California alone, around 1.4 million immigrants live between the U.S-Mexico border and the Southern Ventura County border. Due to the democratic and loyal policies of the region, people get an ability to find a comfortable place, where their abilities and potential can be useful.

Authorized and Non-Authorized Immigrants
The scholars from the Public Policy Institute of California state that in the case of authorized immigrants or those with legal documents, California appears to be home to around 10 million immigrants. It can be clearly seen from Table 2 that this is a number that has gradually risen over the years from 1990 at 21%, to around 26% in 2000, and around 27% in 2015 as per the U.S. Census Bureau.

Some of the counties in California have high populations of foreign-born people at over 30%; they include Monterey, Orange, Imperial, Alameda, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Mateo, and Santa Clara, arranged in ascending order. It is worth noting that documented immigrants make up only 49% of the total number of immigrants in California. Obviously, such a situation is not acceptable. Still, there is no ultimate way of solving this problem, as the issue is very controversial. When it comes to the question of education, as of 2014, 34% of the immigrants at 25 years or older did not have the opportunity of completing high school. At the same time, only 22% had a bachelor’s degree with 71% lacking high-school diploma. In such a way, the people’s ability to find a good job and to make a contribution to the community life is rather weak. Notably, quite a large population of undocumented immigrants lives with their families that are U.S citizens. In fact, around five million children had parents who are undocumented with 79% being U.S citizens. This situation is a source of concern because those undocumented people may be deported. As a result, the issue shifts from the field of policies to the area of family life, which is quite vulnerable.

The Need for Legal Immigrants
As a matter of fact, some issues point directly to the benefits that would accrue if the state of California authorized the number of Latino immigrants living in the state. This is the primary method of illustrating their economic impact. According to Pastor et al., the numbers herein indicate that 39% of the Latino immigrants work in the agriculture industry, 20% in the construction industry, and 11% in the manufacturing industry. Also, 15% work in the entertainment, recreation, arts, and food and services industry while 11% are employed in the repair and services industry. In the case of their occupation, 49% of the unauthorized Latino immigrants work in the fishing, farming, and forestry industry with 24% of the construction workers made up of these people. Still, 26% are found in building maintenance and grounds keeping, 16% as production workers, and 20% in food preparation and service. In such a way, those people who remain unauthorized nowadays are actually a significant part of the California economy. Therefore, the process of authorization would help to increase the level of self-employment and to create new jobs.

In the same breath, a University of Southern California also known as report on the economic gains that would accrue in case the federal government decided to authorize the documentation of these immigrants from Mexico showed interesting findings. The report has incorporated studies by Center for American Progress or CAP and Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. Here, CAP indicated that such a move would pump in $8 billion in California’s economy while CSII estimated the figure of around $4.6 billion. Notably, these studies were consistent with that of US Department of Labor done after 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act came into effect. The study had indicated a 15% increase in the labor wages of the authorized immigrants. According to Blanton, USC report also indicated that a majority of the immigrant families are low-income meaning that they spend the money earned as opposed to saving seen among the wealthy populations. In the end, the multiplier effect on the economy is strong.

The Economic Impact of Immigrants on Southern California
Towards that end, there is no doubt that there is a relationship between the number of Mexican immigrants and the economy of the cities in Southern California, where they are mostly concentrated. At any time, such numbers have a bearing on many economic sectors of this region, including agriculture and the manufacturing industries, first of all. In most cases, the immigrants cross the border into the U.S in search of greener pastures, as their own living conditions are often very bad. The level of business and employment in Mexico differs sharply from that of the U.S. In simple words, as unemployment in Mexico is at a high level with the general living conditions in a deplorable state for those people below the poverty line. Therefore, many questions normally emerge as to whether this influx impacts negatively or positively to California’s infrastructural and economic development.

In order to assess the impact that illegal immigrants make in California, we must look at the statistics in relation to this population. By searching within the American Immigration Council, we will collect the information regarding the number of illegal immigrant works, along with their distribution within the working sector. Additionally, we will record the number of these immigrants that regularly pay federal, state, local, and social security taxes, along with assessing the amount of government benefits this population receives. We must then calculate the total economic output created by illegal immigrants in California. In conjunction with that information, we will be able to estimate the total losses in output that would result from the absence of immigrants.

A Short-Term Impacts of New Immigration Policies
To understand clearly the significance of the immigrant’s community in Southern California, it is important to look at the economic impact of President Trump’s immigration policies. First, there is a possibility of the 839,300 people working in California’s agricultural industry being affected. The loss of such people would emanate from deporting illegal immigrants that work in the many farms in California. Notably, California has a high number of immigrants that provide labor to these farms meaning that they are part and parcel of the economic systems in the state regardless of their documentation status. The scholars from New American Economy state that in 2014, almost 69% of agriculture workers in the state of California were born abroad {see Fig. 5}. It is important to be aware of the fact that these people have only found the job opportunities that were vacant. There is no reason to believe that these immigrants have left the local people out of a job.

In addition, a majority of the economic analysts predict that the full implementation of these policies would be enormous and would cut across major industries including housing construction and manufacturing that employ these people. As it was stated earlier, the recent pronouncements by President Trump showed that there were already some effects. The reason for this is that some businesses rely on the activities along the border. Therefore, any interruption to that process means that some cities in Southern California are affected as much. For example, some of the businesses depend on the purchases made by the immigrants across the border, where goods and services are at lower prices compared to those found in Mexico. Mexico’s Peso has risen sharply in recent years making it difficult for residents from poor households to afford basic needs. Some of them have to cross the border into some cities of Southern California to purchase goods. Therefore, the closure of this border means an interruption of business sales, which is bad from all points of view.

Impact of Immigration Detention in the Long-Term Perspective
It is also important to look at the influence that long-term detention of immigrants would have in Southern California. It is one of the ways of illustrating the economic impact of immigrants in the state especially in light to Donald Trump’s immigration policies. At first, in 2013, 477 000 people were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The costs of this detention for each one of them was around $161 per day (Patler 2). Here, this is the money that each of these people would be making if they had not been detained. As of today, around 33 000 immigrants are detained per day indicating that this is money being lost that could be circulating in the Southern California’s economy. The bad thing is that some people remain in custody for up to six months or longer due to varied reasons. In fact, around 10 000 immigrants are held in custody for six months or longer with 30 000 people staying for at least three months. At the same time, a Border Survey of Mexican Migration or the EMIF 2013-2014 report showed that 15.4% of Mexican immigrants had been staying in detention for a little over one year and half of them for three years or more. Obviously, this process requires additional money for their maintenance.

An Immigrant Detention Study was done to assess the economic and social impact of Mexican immigrants held in custody for six months or more in Southern California. The participants included 562 persons. The findings indicated that it cost a total of around $24.8 million. Of these, 90% were employed before being detained. They had been detained for around 274 days meaning the total wages lost for all them was $11.9 million. The report also indicated that the households of those detained had experienced difficulties in rate payment, mortgage, utility bills, and other types of payment. In essence, this report once again painted the picture of the economic impact that comes with immigration in Southern California. The wages lost in this detention is money that would be circulating in the economy of the region in the form of various taxes paid to the federal government. Still, business persons are also pretty much affected since they also seem to lose business when such persons are detained. It is a whole system of interlinked factors that narrows down to the Southern California economy.

The Contribution of Immigrant Students to California’s Economy
Student immigrants are also part and parcel of the economy in California and contribute a great deal to the various sectors. Foreign students between 2013 and 2014 contributed to $4.1 billion to the state. It had a student population of around 121 647 with this money coming from living expenses, tuition, and fees. In that case, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, this supported around 47 702 jobs. Also, between 2008 and 2012, the tuition paid by around 68 271 foreign students in Long Beach-Santa Ana, Los Angeles was $1.52 billion with that of the living costs at $1.05 billion. In Carlsbad-San Marcos, San Diego, the tuition paid by 14 004 foreign students was $274 million while the living costs stood at $207 million. In Oakland-Fremont, San Francisco, the tuition paid by 37 610 foreign students was around $780 million and the living costs at around $535 million. Finally, in Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, San Jose, foreign students numbering 19 015 paid tuition fees worth $367 million and living cost worth $253 million. Additionally, these figures also translate to the contribution of these students to the innovation and creativity of California’s business environment. They include the Master’s, Ph.D. and Degree holders. On the other hand, the research conducted within RAND Education shows that those immigrants who live in California usually have a lower level of education than other immigrants and their level of English proficiency is also low (see Fig. 6). This issue is very important because these people can get only bad jobs with low earnings, which affects the entire economic situation of the region.

In essence, even though this group of people is the elite among the many immigrants, its contribution to the economic systems of the state cannot be underestimated. The direct and indirect input of students in institutions of higher learning is one of the key things that drive economies in certain regions as California’s metropolitan area indicates. The money they spend circulates within the regional economy eventually leading to the growth of an area. In fact, just the setting up of an institution in an area that was previously underdeveloped leads to phenomenal growth not seen before. Immigrant students coming to the area are driven more by the need to seek education from the best institutions lacking in their country. Southern California has some of the best Universities in the country indicating why the students would find the place accommodative. In the end, when the students attain their degrees, some chose to remain while others go back to their country. For those who remain, they become part of the region’s elite and contribute towards innovation and creativity in various sectors of the economy. With time, the trickle effect is that the economy and infrastructure systems benefit.

In conclusion, it is necessary to emphasize once again that those people that have crossed the border in order to get a better life mostly make a significant impact on the overall economy of the State of California. The data that is analyzed throughout the current research reveals that more than 1/3 of the workforce of California consists of immigrants. Moreover, these people constitute the large proportion of the working population. Also, statistics show that the full implementation of the new restrictive policies can be generally harmful, as it will cut across major industries of the State of California. The problem that remains crucial is the issue of the illegal immigration. Almost a half of the total number of immigrants in California stay undocumented. The data show that federal government’s decision to authorize the documentation of the Mexican immigrants would lead to significant economic benefits. Actually, it would bring billions of dollars to the economy of the State. Another question that has not been resolved is related to the limits of the migration. Obviously, this process requires strict control and reasonable management. The interests of the native population should be protected, but only in a peaceful and harmless way. This aspect requires special attention and stronger responses. Although contemporary political situation tends to be largely unfavorable, people will soon realize that the construction of the wall between native-born Americans and immigrants can do a lot of damage to California’s economy. Of course, an immigration through the Mexican border affects the lives of people in Southern California a lot. Still, benefits usually take precedence over the negative aspects of this controversial phenomenon.

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