With a population of 3.1 million people, San Diego is a majority-minority county, where no one ethnic group makes up more than 50 percent of the population. Ethnic diversity in San Diego will continue to increase, with the hispanic population projected to grow at a rapid rate. Nearly a quarter of the county’s population is immigrants, including refugees (County Health & Human services).


San Diego has a long history of refugee resettlement. According to data from the State Department, San Diego County resettles the second highest number of refugees in California, just behind Sacramento County. In 2019, San Diego County resettled 85 percent more refugees compared to the previous year.


The second largest district in California, San Diego Unified serves an extremely diverse population of more than 120,000 students born in 163 different countries and who speak more than 60 languages. The majority of EL students in California speak spanish.


San Diego has a higher proportion of English Leaders than the state of California as a whole, with twenty-four percent of students in San Diego Unified classified as ELs compared to 21 percent throughout the state. San Diego Unified has the second largest number of EL students in the state, just behind Los Angeles Unified. In 2017, the California Department of Education reported that 85 percent of EL students were economically disadvantaged, and data shows a long standing achievement gap between ELs and non-EL students. The National Academy of Sciences and the California EL Roadmap have both suggested that on average, it takes students between five and seven years to be reclassified within public schools. A study of immigrant students in Los Angeles estimated the English Learner population dropout rate to be approximately 25% in 2008 compared to 15% of their native born peers.