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A viral image on social media -- one that’s critical of illegal immigration -- has been circulating for years. The list of claims first circulated in the form of a chain email in 2006, according to Snopes.com. Six years later, we checked several of the claims ourselves.
With immigration in the headlines today, these claims are popular again.
In this article, we’ll fact-check No. 6: "39% of All California Students are illegals."
According to estimates by Enrico A. Marcelli of San Diego State University and Manuel Pastor of the University of Southern California, only about 3 percent of the child population in California -- defined as those under 18 -- were undocumented immigrants in the period 2008 to 2012. That’s far below the 39 percent suggested by the meme.
There’s another way to look at the scope of undocumented immigrants within the California K-12 system -- to look at the percentage of California K-12 students whose parents are unauthorized.
According to the Pew Research Center, 12.3 percent of K-12 students in California in 2014 had an unauthorized immigrant parent.
This is a broader category -- encompassing parents rather than just students -- but even this doesn’t come close to the meme’s 39 percent figure.
It’s worth noting that "the vast majority of children of unauthorized immigrants are U.S. citizens—upwards of 80 percent," said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at Pew Research Center.
The 39 percent is "way off," said Manuel Pastor, director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California.
The viral image said, "39% of All California Students are illegals."
That’s well above the most solid estimates we’ve seen. Perhaps 3 percent of students are themselves undocumented, and 12.3 percent have a parent who is undocumented.
We rate the statement False.
Viral image received by PolitiFact
Enrico A. Marcelli and Manuel Pastor, "Unauthorized and Uninsured: Building Healthy Communities Sites and California," accessed July 3, 2018
Pew Research Center, "U.S. unauthorized immigration population estimates," Nov. 3, 2016
Email interview with Enrico A. Marcelli, sociologist at San Diego State University, July 3, 2018
Email interview with Manuel Pastor, director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California, July 3, 2018
Email interview with Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at Pew Research Center, July 3, 2018
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