San Diego and Imperial County

Two distinct counties on California’s border with Mexico


  • Large refugee and immigrant population from Asia, Africa, and Central America
  • Many families “split” across the border due to the proximity to Mexico
  • Limited nonprofit infrastructure in Imperial County communities

Perched on the border of the U.S. and Mexico, San Diego and Imperial Counties are home to large and diverse immigrant populations. Some participants described the region as transient, as military bases and a steady flow of immigrants cause the population and demographics to fluctuate.

The cost of living in San Diego and surrounding communities makes it difficult for residents to provide for their families, especially if they do not qualify for social services or traditional jobs due to their immigration status. In San Diego County, there are many resources for residents who are struggling economically; in contrast, however, the nonprofit infrastructure is more modest further east in Imperial County.

Imperial County has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the nation — residents often compete for a small pool of low-paying service, retail, and fast food positions as well as seasonal agricultural work. Air pollution is an issue for residents and is exacerbated by the drought in the region. 

Community Listening Advisors and partners

Community Listening Advisor
Consuelo Martinez, Leadership Development Specialist

Mid-City Community Advocacy Network (CAN)

Community Listening Partner
Orlando Johnson, Community Liaison

211 Imperial

Community listening session venues


November 16, 2016
Imperial County Department of Social Services
2895 S. 4th St., El Centro, CA
Hosted by the Imperial County Department of Social Services and 211 Imperial



November 17, 2016
City Heights Center
4305 University Ave., San Diego, CA
Hosted by the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network