SAN RAFAEL, CA - MAY 23: Illegal immigrant Rolando Ambrocio of Guatemala carries a bucket of dirt while working on a landscaping job May 23, 2007 in San Rafael, California. Rolando Ambrocio came to the United States from Guatemala 10 years ago and is currently living and working as a landscaper in Marin County, California. Rolando is married with seven children that live in Guatemala. The Senate immigration bill currently being debated in Washington would lay out a scenario for Rolando and his family to become citizens, which could include paying a fine and returning to ones country of origin. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rolando Ambrocio
A new study says nearly a quarter of the nation's illegal immigrants live in California.
A Pew Hispanic Center report released Wednesday also says illegal immigrants comprise 6.9 percent of California's population -- the highest percentage in the country.
Overall, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States has dropped for the first time in 20 years, with California housing 23 percent of the country's 11.1 million immigrants.
Much of the decline comes from a sharp drop-off in illegal immigrants from the Caribbean, Central America and South America attempting to cross the southern border of the U.S., according to the Pew Hispanic Center, which based its report on an analysis of 2009 census data.
The study also says 9.3 percent of California's workforce is illegal labor -- second highest in the nation.
The study, based on 2009 statistics, did not include California comparisons to earlier years.
The Homeland Security Department's own estimate of illegal immigrants is slightly lower, at 10.8 million. The government uses a different census survey that makes some year-to-year comparisons difficult.