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California Naturalizes About 155,000 New Citizens

Just in time to vote?

California just added 154,900 new naturalized citizens in fiscal year 2023, which means a lot more voters for the Golden State, just in time for the 2024 presidential election. In fact, it was the only state to hit the 100,000 mark for the fiscal year, with Texas at 99,900, New York at 92,800, and New Jersey at 39,000. However, when adding the state’s total from the past three years, that amounts to more than 500,000 new naturalized voters. Who are these new citizens, and is this a robust trend because of the high influx of illegal immigrants?

California and Its New Citizens

Mexican nationals had the highest rate of becoming legal citizens in California with 111,500 people. Individuals from India were next, with 59,100, then the Philippines, 44,800. Dominican Republic immigrants accounted for 35,200, and Cubans had 33,200. This isn’t a new trend, though. In fact, fiscal year 2023 saw fewer foreign nationals become legal citizens. In 2021, there were 172,000, and in 2022, 182,000.

Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) records from 2022 showed that 27% of California’s population was foreign-born, which just happens to be the highest of any other state. Recently, the organization said there were 10.4 million legal residents as of January 2024, which is about 23% of the nation’s foreign-born population. Furthermore, from 2021 to 2023, PPIC found that there were 6.1 million immigrants employed in the state, which is about one in three workers.

So, why isn’t this making a splash in the media? Stephen Goggin, assistant political science professor at San Diego State University, told Newsweek that the state’s immigration draws less attention because of residents’ familiarity with the border and the issue of people settling in California being “always salient.”

University of California San Diego Political Science Professor Thad Kousser told Newsweek, “Part of the reason is many parts of the nation are just in recent years experiencing a large rise in immigration, whereas in California it has been a huge part of the state’s history throughout its history – and a huge part of the politics, where it has been an issue since the 1990s.”

Maybe that explains why a PPIC poll from February showed that immigration was not high on the list of what California residents consider top priorities (10%). More than half of adults (57%) said they think the state is headed in the wrong direction; their top concerns are the economy, inflation, and homelessness. The Golden State is true blue, so it is not surprising that those surveyed would choose President Joe Biden (55%) over former President Donald Trump (32%) in the upcoming election. Those percentages, however, keep wavering. Last June, Biden had 58% and Trump had 25%; in July, the commander-in-chief had 56% to Trump’s 31%.

Newsweek produced a map reflecting the costs of illegal migrants to each state. California has the most illegal aliens as well as the most undocumented with children in the United States, which also means the Golden State has a much higher financial burden than the rest of the United States. FAIR reported that it costs the state about $22.82 billion for migrants, but when you add children to the mix, it’s about $30.93 billion.

An interesting change has occurred, though. A February PPIC survey asked respondents to choose which of the following statements is true for them: “Immigrants today are a benefit to California because of their hard work and job skills OR immigrants today are a burden to California because they use public services.”  A whopping 32% of millennials and GenZers said they felt they were a burden. In June last year, it had been only 19% of those aged 18-34.

PPIC survey’s director Mark Baldassare told Newsweek that the younger generation is shifting its opinion on immigration to consider it more of a problem. “The topic is now viewed by many people as a crisis, and that’s raised different kinds of concerns than what we’ve seen in the past. There’s also partisan disagreement on the topic in Washington D.C. That’s reflected in the trends that we see among Republicans and Democrats in all age groups.”

Even though California has more voters thanks to making 150,000 foreign nationals legal citizens, the residents may not be as blindly accepting of illegal immigration as they used to be. Although they still don’t view it as a huge problem, according to the survey, the attitudes are trending toward change, especially among Millennials and Gen Z.

Read More From Kelli Ballard

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