"Immigrants Boost State Population to 31,300,000"
           Copyright 1993 The Chronicle Publishing Co.
San Francisco Chronicle

                   FEBRUARY 16, 1993, TUESDAY, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 659 words

HEADLINE:  Immigrants Boost State Population  to 31.3 Million

BYLINE: John Wildermuth, Chronicle Staff Writer


     California's population soared to 31.3 million last year,
boosted by the biggest influx of foreign immigrants in the past
20 years.

   More than 300,000 people moved from foreign countries to
California last year, 22 percent more than in 1991, reported
the state Department of Finance, which does an annual survey of
the state's population.

   At the same time, California residents were fleeing the
state in the wake of  what Governor Wilson last week called the
worst economic times since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Between July 1, 1991, and July 30, 1992, 41,000 more people
left California for other states than moved here.

   The crippling recession, which has cost the state's
aerospace and defense industries more than 800,000 jobs since
1990, is probably the major reason California residents are
leaving the state in search of greener pastures.

   Although there was little or no migration from California
during the recessions of the early 1970s and the early 1980s,
the current downturn not only has lasted longer and cut deeper,
but also shows few signs of easing.

   The motto in California now is, ''Stay alive till '95,''
Senator Dianne Feinstein told reporters in December.

   The unprecedented jump in foreign immigration comes at a
time when the state  is reeling from the cost of providing for
both legal and undocumented immigrants.

   The governor is lobbying hard to force the federal
government to reimburse California for nearly $ 1.5 billion the
state has spent on foreign immigrants. Wilson has also called
on Mexico to forbid its citizens from moving to this country
unless they can enter legally.

   ''This is difficult to talk about publicly, I suppose,'' the
governor said earlier this month. ''It's a sensitive subject.''

   Wilson blames foreign immigration for a large share of the
state's burgeoning budget problems.

   According to Wilson, more than 300,000 undocumented
immigrants are now eligible for Medi-Cal health insurance at a
cost this year of nearly $ 900 million, half of which will be
paid by the state. About 11 percent of the state's prison
inmates are in the state illegally, and the state pays $ 250
million to house them, the governor said.

   But the biggest cost of all, Wilson insists, is education.
By one account, 250,000 children of undocumented immigrants go
to schools in Los Angeles County  alone, at an annual cost to
the state of $ 4,675 each.

   The new numbers could provide more ammunition for groups
such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform and
Californians for Population Stabilization, which already are
working to trim the number of immigrants entering the United

   Overall, California's population grew by 654,000 last year,
or 2.1 percent. The state's annual growth rate has been at
least 2 percent every year since 1980, double the growth rate
of the rest of the nation.

   The sparsely populated Gold Country counties of the Sierra
Nevada continued to be the fastest-growing part of the state
with a 3.8 percent rise in population. The slowest growth, 2
percent, was in the population-rich counties of the Bay Area
and Southern California.

   The fastest-growing county in the state was Imperial, at 7.4
percent. Calaveras, Madera, Mariposa, San Benito and Del Norte
counties also grew at a better than 5 percent clip. Madera
County also rose above the 100,000 mark, with a population of
100,400 as of last July.

   In population numbers, sprawling Los Angeles County
dominated, as usual.  Its 112,000 new residents was nearly
double the 57,000 growth in Orange County, its  nearest rival.

   Three Northern California counties were in the top 10 for
numerical growth. Santa Clara added 26,600 residents;
Sacramento, 25,100; and Alameda, 23,300.

   San Francisco gained 11,100 new residents, bringing its
population to 744,500. That makes the county the 10th largest
in the state, just ahead of fast-growing Fresno County with