Immigrant Integration Scorecard for California

(Excerpt from press release)

Los Angeles, CA – The University of Southern California’s Center on Immigration Integration today released the first‐of‐its‐kind, “California Immigrant Integration Scorecard. ”

The Scorecard measures immigrant integration and progress across ten California regions: Santa Clara, East Bay, San Diego, Sacramento, Orange, San Francisco, Inland Empire, Los Angeles, San Joaquin and Fresno. It highlights promising regional and statewide strategies for improving immigrant integration.

The Scorecard shows that immigrant integration can be measured and improved. The researchers used a variety of indicators to capture different aspects of immigrant integration in the areas of economic mobility and civic participation as well as the receiving society’s openness. These indicators are grouped into four categories: Economic Snapshot, Economic Trajectory, Warmth of Welcome and Civic Engagement. The Scorecard identifies regions more successfully integrating immigrants and offers policies and actions for regions seeking to improve.

“With this data, we hope to inspire productive conversations among local and state leaders on the best ways to improve regional economies and social environments through immigrant integration,” said Dr. Manuel Pastor, Director of University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, which created the Scorecard. “California has always been about the future,” continued Pastor. “Our economy is one of the biggest in the world and we challenge ourselves with new industries and products. Immigrants have fueled our growth since the state’s earliest days, and continue today, contributing one‐third of our state’s GDP. As with our state, strong local economies in California today attest to that vision and resiliency, and have been successful in integrating immigrants into their economies and society.”

Statewide Outlook: Overall Scores

In the Scorecard, Santa Clara shows the most progress towards integration while Fresno has the furthest to catch up. The East Bay, San Diego, Sacramento, Orange and San Francisco have similar, higher scores. The Inland Empire, Los Angeles, and San Joaquin have done less well. These cumulative scores reflect a great deal of variation in the four categories. (For detail and charts for each region, see the Scorecard.) For the scoring, each indicator was compared across the ten regions, considered and scored from one to five (where five is the best score) then averaged with the others in the category. The category scores were then averaged to get an overall score for the region.

Statewide Agenda “A statewide agenda emerged from the Scorecard,” said Vanessa Carter, researcher on the Scorecard. “In all places, improvements are needed in education, in enabling high‐skilled workers to use their degrees, and to learn English. A statewide body is needed to bring this work to scale and bring resources in regions less welcoming to immigrants.”

Regional Findings

• Almost all the regions scored well on at least one category, but some showed a wide divergence between categories. For example, San Francisco does poorly on Economic Trajectory, but has the highest score in Warmth of Welcome. San Joaquin is nearly the polar opposite. Santa Clara and the East Bay scored consistently higher; Fresno scored consistently lower.

• Bolstering integration efforts in rural areas with smaller urban centers could improve very low scores. San Joaquin, Fresno, and the Inland Empire could be helped by increasing the reach of immigrant serving organizations, more positive messaging about immigrants, and improving the naturalization infrastructure.

• Suburban regions connected with strong economies showed some economic success for immigrants but faced some other challenges. The East Bay, Orange County, and San Diego achieved a few markers of economic achievement, yet scores in the latter two regions could rise with more positive immigrant messaging and English learning opportunities.

• Los Angeles and San Francisco’s high cost of living challenge immigrants despite the regions’ most welcoming stance. Long‐time immigration to these areas makes them particularly welcoming, but economic development strategies are needed, both for immigrants and in general to address the very high cost of living. To mark the report’s release, a press conference was held in Los Angeles today. In addition, a teleconference presented the statewide data. Both local and statewide data are available here.

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