The San Jose Mercury News punctures another immigration myth: That Mexicans living in California are overwhelmingly illegal. According to the Mercury News, 70 percent of those in California with "Mexican heritage" are American citizens (compared with 40 percent in North Carolina, the state with the fastest growing Mexican population during the 1990s), largely through birthright citizenship:
For the first time in the most current wave of immigration, U.S. Census Bureau figures show that 70 percent of California's Mexican population are U.S. citizens, blunting widespread belief the state is overrun by illegal immigrants.
"California has reached a steady state with regard to immigration," said Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California. "The number of new foreign-born arrivals is being offset by the number of babies who are being born here and the number of parents who are naturalizing."
In Santa Clara County, the increase in citizens of Mexican ancestry due to birth and naturalization exceeds the growth in non-citizen immigrants by a 3-1 ratio this decade, census data shows. Juan Loerca is a prime example. He came to Santa Clara County three years ago from the Mexican province of Sinaloa. He was married at the time, but he and his young bride didn't have any children. Just five months ago, he and his wife, Lucilla, had their first son in this country. "He's American," the 28-year-old said, smiling as he called his son's birth in the country his first "gift" to him.
Loerca and his wife, who would someday like to become naturalized citizens, could be forced to leave through deportation if their illegal status draws government attention.
But he noted that his son would still be able to come back to this country one day because he's a citizen.
"I want to have kids here, to give them opportunity," he said. "To be a citizen is to have opportunity.
Ron Paul, you might have noticed, is not a huge fan of birthright citizenship.