In the Age of Trump, the issue of immigration is never far from the forefront of political and/or social discourse. A new report published by the UCR Center for Social Innovation in partnership with the California Immigrant Policy Center and Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice has focused on the history and state of immigrants in the inland region.
According to the report, there are now almost one million immigrants living in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. The report stressed how the region’s economic strength and cultural vitality is as dependent on these individuals as it is on the many who are native born, however the report also noted how and why it is important that the region’s immigrant communities not be assumed nor taken for granted.
At least one in five residents in the Inland Empire is an immigrant and there are immigrant communities spread across the area’s 27 million square miles. In 2016, there were just over 4.5 million residents in the Inland Empire and of that total, 972,476 were immigrants. The immigrant population was split between Riverside County (520,760) and San Bernardino County (451,716).
According to the report, 48 percent of the region’s immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens, and 52 percent are not. Of note, Latinos represent a greater share of immigrants in the Inland Empire than in the rest of Southern California—at least
49 percent of the region’s total population and 69 percent of its foreign-born population is Latino. Filipinos, at 33 percent, account for the largest portion of the Asian immigrant population in the Inland Empire and Chinese are 22percent of the area’s Asian population.
A key economic factor highlighted in the report noted immigrants in Riverside County are more likely to work in construction and agriculture than those in other regions in the state, while immigrants in San Bernardino County are more likely to work in transportation. It is clear the area’s immigrant population is extremely diverse in terms of national origin, occupation and areas of settlement.
These communities face a number of challenging concerns that include poverty, education, employment, and social service needs. Their presence in the region including their historic, economic, and social contributions as defined in the study should be helpful in determining important policy considerations.
In addition to data, the report includes several personal vignettes that add dimension to the lives of many in these communities. One example tells the story of a young lady named, Juanita. Her family history in the United States dates well before her own migration from Mexico and shows the complexity of family ties across both countries. Juanita and her parents first migrated in 1987 when she was a teenager, but her grandfather had already arrived a few decades prior, and her older siblings had been in the United States for over 15 years. Juanita’s family intended to visit temporarily but ended up staying longer to save some money. They eventually settled permanently in the region.
In another example, a young lady named Mary was born in the United States after her parents were able to migrate through a family sponsorship program from Taiwan. Her parents initially settled in San Diego but eventually purchased a home in the city of Chino Hills. Mary’s parents wanted to provide a better future for their family in a place where they could access more resources. For the last two years, Mary has been working as a program coordinator for a nonprofit organization.
Researchers are hopeful the report will be a useful tool for shared understanding and should help inform the work of public, for-profit, and nonprofit enterprises in the inland region. The full 20-page report is available for review online at file:///C:/Users/thela/Downloads/state- immigrants-ie.pdf.