L.A., Orange counties are home to 1 million immigrants who are in the country illegally, analysis shows
The chatter of Spanish serves as the backdrop of Pico-Union, where the aroma of pastries from the panaderia merge with the synthetic smells of an auto repair garage. A predominantly Latino neighborhood, it has for decades been a first stop for immigrants — both legal and illegal — coming from various corners of Latin America.
Over the years, this community has faced challenges, including from politicians threatening crackdowns on illegal immigration. But to many in this densely populated area near MacArthur Park, the presidency of Donald Trump poses a threat of an altogether different scale. Trump has vowed mass deportations of those here illegally, which if carried out, could fundamentally alter the rhythms of life in Pico-Union and numerous other immigrant enclaves around Southern California and beyond.
The potential threat of emptied homes and shuttered businesses has residents envisioning the worst.
“Una desolación. Imagínate no más,” worried Graciela Sandoval, 79, who has lived in Pico-Union for five decades. A desolation. Just imagine it.
An analysis released Thursday by the Pew Research Center underscores just how much immigrants here illegally have been embedded into the culture and economy of Los Angeles. Woven, often seamlessly, into dozens of cities’ infrastructures, they have become a workforce and community that makes up much of the fabric of Southern California.
Nearly 10% of the nation’s 11.1 million immigrants who are in the country illegally reside in Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to the research center. The region is home to 1 million such immigrants, second only to the greater New York area, which has 1.2 million. Third on the list was Houston with 575,000. The city of Los Angeles alone has an estimated 375,000.
Up to 8 million people in the country illegally could be considered priorities for deportation, according to calculations by The Times based on interviews with experts who studied internal documents related to Trump’s directive. Trump has said that his order allows immigration officials to detain nearly anyone who has crossed the border illegally.