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Conference Explores Challenges and Economic Impact of Undocumented Immigrants in California

Cal Lutheran research study and conference will separate myths from realities

THOUSAND OAKS, CALIF., Jan. 31, 2024 — Undocumented immigrants contribute more than $151 billion to California’s economy, according to the 2023 study “Demographic Profile and Economic Impact of Undocumented Immigrants in California: Separating Myths from Realities” by Jamshid Damooei, Ph.D., of California Lutheran University School of Management’s Center for Economics of Social Issues (CESI). To discuss and explore the findings, Cal Lutheran is holding the timely conference, “Separating Myths from Realities: Challenges Undocumented Immigrants Face and Their Economic Impact in California.” The conference will be held from 8 a.m. – noon on Feb. 22 in the Lundring Events Center on the Cal Lutheran campus.

The half-day conference aims to bring attention to the moral and economic necessity of helping the integration of immigrants into Californian society. A keynote panel of immigration experts will share their perspectives, the result of decades of work in their areas, on how to bring attention to the needs of undocumented immigrants in the state. Damooei will also release the 2023 study, which defines the socioeconomic profile and economic impacts of California’s undocumented immigrants.

“Our goal is to separate common myths from reality regarding undocumented immigrants’ lives and their economic contribution in the region and the state of California,” said Damooei, a Cal Lutheran economics professor and executive director of CESI. 

Dr. Sabith Khan, program director of the Masters of Public Policy and Administration program at Cal Lutheran, will moderate the panel. Panelists include Álvaro de Regil Castilla, executive director, The Jus Semper Global Alliance; Dr. Thai V. Le, research scientist, USC Dornsife Equity Research Institute, which produces data-driven analysis and rigorous research; Lindsay Toczylowski, co-founder and executive director, Immigrant Defenders Law Center; and Apolonio “Polo” Morales, deputy director of programs and campaigns at the California Immigrant Policy Center.

“The study sheds light on the enormous and irreplaceable economic contribution of undocumented immigrants in California. It will put a human face on the tragedy of the way undocumented immigrants are isolated and treated, even though more than 73% of them have lived in the United States for over 10 years,” Damooei added.

Additional study findings to be explored at the conference include:  

·      Approximately 1.6 million undocumented immigrants work in California; their work creates an additional 1.25 million jobs for other workers in the state. 

·      Approximately $9 billion of the taxes undocumented immigrants annually pay is generated by employer and employee social security contributions. Undocumented immigrants will never benefit from these taxes.

·      10.9% of the undocumented immigrant workforce is employed in professional services, education or health services.

“At Cal Lutheran, our mission is to be guided by social justice and advocacy so we can reimagine education to disrupt inequities. Dr. Damooei’s research study not only aligns with our mission, it points to the important economic contribution of undocumented immigrants locally, in the state and nationally,” said Dr. Gerhard Apfelthaler, dean of the School of Management at Cal Lutheran.

A Spanish interpreter will be available at the conference held at Cal Lutheran, 60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks. There is no cost to attend for Cal Lutheran faculty, staff and students. Tickets are $40 for community members. Register at

View additional selected findings from the 2023 Undocumented Immigrant Study: Link

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About California Lutheran University: Founded in 1959 and formally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution since 2016, California Lutheran University is home to over 2,300 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students. Our students come from 59 countries and represent a wide spectrum of faiths and spirituality. Our dedicated, accomplished faculty teach in small classes, guiding our students as they grow into open-minded leaders who are strong in character and judgment, confident in identity andvocation, and committed to service and justice. Everyone at Cal Lutheran is committed to helping each student pursue their passions, discover their purpose and transform their community. Learn more at

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