At the May Day 2007 demonstrations in Los Angeles, immigrants and their supporters called for legal status and rights for undocumented workers. In addition to taking off work or school, marchers demonstrated their economic importance by refusing to purchase anything on the day of the protests. Photo: (c)2007 David Bacon, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Population Doubles
Change in the economic order historically sets people moving — either pushed by lack of opportunity or pulled to a new place by the promise of it. As a center of the new service economy, California continued to grow — from 15.7 million in 1960 to an estimated 36.5 million in 2006. Some of this increase was natural, due to childbirth, but much of it was the result of migration from other states and immigration from other countries.
In 1950, about 10 percent of the population of California was foreign born. By 1990, California was home to nearly 6.5 million legal immigrants from around the globe, or about 22 percent of its total population.
A Growing Diversity
The numbers of immigrants not only increased, but the post-1965 immigrants were in many ways different from their predecessors. A large portion of new Asian immigrants differed from their ancestors who came to the United States before 1924.
This new generation was strikingly diverse, arriving not only from Japan and China but also from Vietnam, Singapore, and Laos. While some were impoverished refugees from war-torn regions, others came from urban areas, and on the whole were well educated and prepared for economic achievement in the United States. In some cases, such as in Central America and Southeast Asia, wars related to competing political and economic ideologies created millions of refugees, many of whom landed in California.