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MIAMI - JANUARY 19: A Customs and Border Protection officer works at the passport control area January 19, 2007 at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida. Starting January 23, 2007 new passport regulation will require all travelers coming into the U.S. from Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico by air must have a passport. Travelers returning by land or sea will be required to show passports by January 1, 2008. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
California's immigration trend may have peaked if new numbers hold true.
A study released Wednesday finds the immigrants' share of the population of the golden state is declining. It's based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other federal sources.
The current number is less than 27 percent. It is 26.6 percent to be exact. That is down from the peak of 27.4 percent in 2007.
The dip reversed a trend that began in 1965. That year federal reforms lifted some restrictions on immigration.
The study's authors at USC say they think the dip is due two things: the downturn in the economy and the upturn in border enforcement.
Dowell Myers, who is the lead author of the study, told the Associated Press that the research shows that homegrown Californians, not foreign-born immigrants, are increasingly the main beneficiaries of public education and other social spending. Myers also said the shift may make California voters more willing to approve tax increases for improved public education and other social programs, since they'll perceive those benefits as going to fellow Californians, as opposed to foreign-born immigrants. Voters may also become more willing to pay for public education out of a belief that native Californians are more likely to remain in the state and contribute to its future economic growth, said Myers, who has written extensively about the economic contributions of immigrant groups
"The absolute number of foreign-born residents in California is now growing very slowly because of the falling rate of new arrivals, continued out-migration ... and the mortality among aging immigrants," the studies' authors wrote. "The harsh effect of the Great Recession on job opportunities throughout 2010 and possibly later seems likely to cause a continuation of this steep decline."
Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said it was not surprising that the downturn would discourage immigration to the state. But he said the decrease has not been substantial enough for him to notice any changes firsthand.
"We are still very much an immigrant state," he said.