The southern border region is one of the most diverse and economically vibrant regions in the country. From San Diego, California in the west to Brownsville, Texas to the east, the communities that make up the southern border region are vibrant, diverse and binational.
The southern border has a deeply rich cultural and indigenous history that predates national boundaries, and its unique wildlife habitats enrich the dynamic landscape home to endangered species like wolves, jaguars and howls. Southern border cities, including San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas, are some of the safest communities in the country. The southern border is a key engine of economic growth; an international trade hub that creates jobs and generates wealth.
DEMOGRAPHICS: Vibrant, diverse and binational
Some 30 million people live in the border region. About 20 million people live within 100 miles of the U.S. southern border, according to the U.S. Census Data. And an estimated 11 million people live within 100 miles in Mexico, according to the latest INEGI data. The communities that make up the southern border region are growing, diverse and vibrant. This demographic and economic profile paints a picture of communities in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
From San Diego, California in the west to Brownsville, Texas to the east, the communities that make up the southern border region are growing. The overall population of the southern border region has grown 4.5% points since 2012, slightly faster than the U.S. average of 4.2%.
A majority of the estimated 19.1 million people living in the southern border region live in California (67%), followed by Texas (17%), Arizona (12%) and New Mexico (3%).
A vast majority of people living in the border region are people of color. Half (50%) are Hispanic, 4% are black, one-in-ten (10%) identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander, among others. One-third (33%) of the population is white, compared to the U.S. average of 62%.
Broken down by state, the racial and ethnic demographics of border residents vary further. Eight-in-ten (81%) of Texans living in the border are Hispanic or Latinx. Meanwhile, only 37% of Arizonans who live in the southern border region are Hispanic or Latinx.
The border region is on par with the U.S. average in terms of educational attainment for people ages 25 or older. For both the U.S. and the border region, about four-in-ten residents have a high school degree or less, followed by about three-in-ten who have attained a two-year degree or some college.
However, educational access and attainment vary by border state. Half of Texan adults living in the border region have a high school degree or less, compared to 39% of the U.S. overall. California, on the other hand, has the highest share of border-residents with a college or advanced degree.
The median age among border residents is 37 years old - compared to 39 years old for the U.S. as a whole, making the region slightly younger.
DACA recipients live in the border region, according to the latest data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Of the estimated 669,000 active DACA recipients, some 157,000 live in the southern border region. 84,000 Dreamers live in the L.A. metropolitan area, followed by 23,000 in Riverside-San Bernardino; 22,000 in the Phoenix area and 11,000 in the San Diego region.
Immigrant youth are instrumental to our communities — they’re our neighbors, teachers, nurses and doctors. Learn more about Border Dreamers here.Learn more
Compared to the U.S. average, border residents are twice as likely to be immigrants. In 2018, 23% of border residents were born in another country, compared to 13% for the U.S. total. Half of all immigrants in the border region are U.S. citizens.
California has the highest share of immigrants in the border region, where a quarter of border residents (26%) were born in another country. In Texas, 21% of border residents are immigrants, followed by 13% of New Mexico residents and 12% in Arizona.
The border region is home to 4.4 million immigrants. Among them, most (67%) speak English proficiently.
In 2018, the border region had a higher unemployment rate compared with the U.S. average (5.5% versus 4.9%).
Among border states, Arizona had the highest unemployment rate at 6.32%, while California had the lowest at 5.3%.
In 2018, the border region had a higher poverty rate than the U.S. average.
Wealth and poverty vary across the border. Texans living in the border region experienced about twice the poverty rate than the U.S. average at 23.7%.
Biodiversity of the Border Region
The deadly and wasteful border wall has caused a great deal of damage to the southern border region. The border wall has disrupted the natural environment of hundreds of species living along the U.S.-Mexico border by impacting habitats and undermining decades of conservation work. Construction of infrastructure has killed animals directly or has disrupted habitat connectivity, further endangering critical species unique to this region.
The border wall has disrupted the natural environment of hundreds of species living along the U.S.-Mexico border by impacting habitats and undermining decades of conservation work. Construction of infrastructure has killed animals directly or has disrupted habitat connectivity, further endangering critical species unique to this region.
peninsular bighorn sheep
The peninsular bighorn sheep are endangered. The wall will prevent them from migrating between the U.S. and Mexico to their watering and birthing sites.
Mexican Gray Wolf
Only a few hundred of these endangered wolves are left in the wild in Sonora, Arizona and New Mexico.
The U.S.-Mexico border is home to six different ecological regions, ranging from desert scrub to grasslands and marshes.
There are an estimated 1,500 animal and close to 500 plant species unique to the border land region, according to scientists and environmentalists.
Future construction also threatens:
Trade and Economic Benefits
The southern border region is a key engine for economic growth. The San Ysidro Port of Entry in Southern California is one of the largest ports of entry in the world, with over 10 million individual crossings yearly. In 2019, $427 billion dollars’ worth of goods were traded by truck along ports in the southern border, highlighting the importance of this region to the national economy.
In 2019, $427 billion dollars’ worth of goods were traded by truck along ports in the southern border, highlighting the importance of this region to the national economy.
Trade through Texas represented the vast majority of truck-based trade (73%) between the U.S. and Mexico, totaling more than $300 billion worth of goods traded. Over $65b of goods were traded through California ports of entry in 2019.
Regular Crossing Data at Southern Border
About half a million people cross from Mexico into the United States every day. Many are visitors, but a considerable number are people working or studying in the U.S. For the transfronterizo students, crossing over is a daily, hours-long ritual from home to school. No estimate exists of how many American students live and commute from Mexico. Many moved to Mexican border cities for the lower cost of living, while others were displaced by a parent’s deportation.
In 2019, the largest average daily crossings were in Texas, followed by California, Arizona and New Mexico. However, the busiest crossing is the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego, California where 36.7 million crossings occurred in 2019.