LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A new study by the Pew Research Center released Thursday found Los Angeles is second to New York City with the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the United States.
The study estimated there were 11.1 million immigrants living in the United States illegally in 2014.
Five of the 20 metro areas with the biggest number of unauthorized immigrant populations are in California: Los Angeles, Riverside-San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose, according to the Pew Research study.
Alex, who only gave his first name, is among one million immigrants living in the L.A. metro area illegally.
“We’re just regular people trying to make a living. We’re trying to get by,” said Alex, who has lived in Orange County since he was five years old.
He graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in sociology and currently is a case worker helping families with mental-health issues.
“It’s definitely a lot of fear and a lot of concern just because I feel like I’m keeping a secret,” he said. “And I feel bad for keeping a secret that shouldn’t be a secret – something that I shouldn’t feel bad about.”
He has a legal work permit since President Barack Obama put in place in 2012 the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows certain undocumented immigrants, who entered the U.S. when they were minors, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
“We’re here to make a difference, and we want to contribute to the economy, to society. And we just want to live like anybody else,” Alex added.
Alex’s story is not uncommon. Karina Gutierrez, an immigration attorney in Santa Ana, said many of her clients share the same story and fears about what might happen to them.
“Most may consider it to be the gardener, the nanny or the person that cleans your house. But it involves professionals who are in the medical field, who are in the legal field and who are in other service areas,” the attorney said.