Sub-Saharan African Immigrants in the United States

Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova, Migration Policy Institute, October 30, 2014

The first migrants from sub-Saharan Africa came to the United States as a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Between 1519 and 1867 approximately 360,000 Africans were forced to migrate to the United States; in total, more than 10 million people were enslaved and brought to the Americas. Significant voluntary migration from sub-Saharan Africa to the United States did not begin until the 1980s. From 1980 to 2013, the sub-Saharan African immigrant population in the United States increased from 130,000 to 1.5 million, roughly doubling each decade between 1980 and 2010. Between 2010 and 2013 the sub-Saharan African-born population increased a further 13 percent, from 1.3 million to 1.5 million. As of 2013, sub-Saharan Africans accounted for a small but growing share (4 percent) of the 41.3 million total immigrants in the United States; they also constituted 82 percent of the 1.8 million immigrants born anywhere on the African continent.

Click here for an interactive chart that highlights migration trends to the United States from individual sub-Saharan African countries.

The contemporary wave of sub-Saharan migration is diverse and includes both skilled professionals and less-educated refugees. In 2013, 78 percent of sub-Saharan Africans came from Eastern and Western Africa, with Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa representing the top sending countries. Together, these five origin countries accounted for more than 52 percent of all sub-Saharan Africans in the United States.

Immigrants from several Anglophone African countries (Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe) were more likely to have at least a four-year degree, while those born in Cape Verde, Eritrea, Liberia,  and Somalia, though accounting for a small share of the total sub-Saharan population, were disproportionately refugees and less likely to have a college degree.

Most sub-Saharan African immigrants who obtain lawful permanent residence in the United States (also known as receiving a green card) arrive as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, refugees, or through the Diversity Visa Lottery. Compared to the total foreign-born population, sub-Saharan African immigrants were among the best educated and less likely to be Limited English Proficient (LEP). Sub-Saharan Africans also had a higher rate of health insurance coverage.

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Distribution by state and key cities

Most immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa settled in New York (9 percent), Texas (8 percent), and Maryland (8 percent). The top four counties with sub-Saharan immigrants were Montgomery County in Maryland, Bronx County in New York, Prince George’s County in Maryland, and Hennepin County in Minnesota. Together, the four counties accounted for about 12 percent of the total sub-Saharan immigrant population in the United States.

Click here for an interactive map that shows the geographic distribution of immigrants from top sub-Saharan African sending countries by state and county.

In the 2008-12 period, the U.S. cities with the greatest number of sub-Saharan immigrants were the greater New York, Washington D.C., and Atlanta metropolitan areas. These three metropolitan areas accounted for about 26 percent of sub-Saharan immigrants in the United States.

Click here for an interactive map that highlights the metropolitan areas with the highest concentrations of immigrants from top sub-Saharan African sending countries.

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Immigration pathways and naturalization

In 2013, approximately 1.5 million sub-Saharan African immigrants resided in the United States, comprising about 4 percent of the total U.S. foreign-born population. Most sub-Saharan immigrants arrived between 2000 and 2009 (44 percent), about 40 percent came before 2000, and 17 percent arrived in 2010 or later. In contrast, 61 percent of all immigrants to the United States arrived prior to 2000, 29 percent between 2000 and 2009, and 10 percent in 2010 and after.

Forty-nine percent of the 1.5 million sub-Saharan immigrants were naturalized U.S. citizens, compared to 47 percent of all immigrants. In fiscal year 2013, almost half of all sub-Saharan immigrants who became lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in the United States were immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (45 percent). Sub-Saharan African immigrants were much more likely to have been admitted as refugees (21 percent) or through the Diversity Visa Lottery (17 percent) than immigrants from most other world regions. Sub-Saharan immigrants were much less likely to gain a green card via employment pathways (5 percent) compared to the overall LPR population (16 percent).

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Remittances

Global remittances sent to sub-Saharan Africa via formal channels equaled $31 billion in 2013, representing about 2 percent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to data from the World Bank. Remittances received by sub-Saharan African countries have seen a seven-fold increase since 2003.

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  • JackKrak

    360k then, 40+ million today.

    The most incompetently executed “genocide” in the history of man.

  • dmxinc

    Everything in this article is bad news.

  • MekongDelta69

    From 1980 to 2013, the sub-Saharan African immigrant population in the United States increased from 130,000 to 1.5 million, roughly doubling each decade between 1980 and 2010.

    I mean, really. How lucky can we get?

    Where’s my DeLorean? I want to go back to 1955, when just about everything in this country was normal.

  • superlloyd

    ‘Compared to the total foreign-born population, sub-Saharan African immigrants were among the best educated and less likely to be Limited English Proficient (LEP). Sub-Saharan Africans also had a higher rate of health insurance coverage.’

    This is often touted as a proof for intellectual parity but is in fact a lie:-

    BACHELOR’S DEGREE OR MORE EDUCATION

    1. Asian: 51.3% native born. 49.1% foreign born.

    2. Non-hispanic White: 30.1% native born. 37.9% foreign born.

    3. Black: 16.2% native born. 26.0% foreign born.

    Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2007.

    With regression to the mean, the self selected, high achieving first generation will bequeath the usual African legacy of low IQ, criminal parasites to posterity.

    • Max

      I am also curious as to just what these college degrees are awarded for. Most of the blacks and Hispanics I know about are taking degrees in “Cultural Studies” “Public Administration”, “Black History”, Chicano Studies” and the like. These are of no value to any society anywhere except liberal get-togethers -which doesn’t count anyway.

      • Harry

        Any employer who sees ” “Black History”, Chicano Studies” on a resume must know right off the bat that they would be hiring a problem person.

        • Max

          Unfortunately, many of the so-called “H.R.” depts. are populated with the same thing and/or men-hating feminists who can filter out less qualified (read- white or likely white male) applicants before they ever get to the next stage of the process. The entire system is fouled up beyond repair.

    • Harry

      BACHELOR’S DEGREE is becoming a somewhat dubious title nowadays. “3. Black: 16.2% native born. 26.0% foreign born.” Degree in what? Ebonics? Learning how to peruse a phone book?

  • Voice of Reason

    Some On Public Housing Waitlists Are Taking Their Vouchers To Smaller Cities from npr KQED

    So why are those Somalis moving to Cheyenne, WY? Prepare to be shocked

    Google for story..I can’t link

    • SentryattheGate

      I found the story and it made me nauseous; Somalis in one of the last white strongholds–Wyoming! 99% of the comments agreed with the typical Amrener!

  • Because we were suffering for a lack of black Africans.

  • Close the immigration window now. Repatriate those here. We have enough of our home grown savages destroying Western civilization. We don’t need any more.

    • IstvanIN

      From your lips to the Special Forces ears. We need a military government.

  • Luca

    More good news: Obama is making sure they get vouchers for Section 8 housing and since zip codes determine success, they’ll be well dispersed throughout America, except for gated Liberal enclaves of course.

  • Stan D Mute

    Okay:

    Between 1519 and 1867 approximately 360,000 Africans were forced to migrate to the United States; in total, more than 10 million people were enslaved and brought to the Americas.

    Everybody see what they did there? Admitting that their 360K was oppressed into reproducing more than a hundred fold, they want to fudge the numbers with those shipped to the Caribbean and South America.

    Obviously, admitting that only 360K were brought here and ten times that many have since come eagerly and voluntarily screws up their “white privilege” and “white racism” story line so they must obfuscate as much as possible.

    • Max

      Yeah, the maff had me flummoxed there too but I didn’t care enough to try to divine what it means because the story is stupid, regardless.

    • KenelmDigby

      Slightly OT, but in today’s Britain, substantially more than 360,000 non-white third worlders are imported into the country *each year* and *every year*.
      It took the vast land of the USA around 350 years to accomplish what the tiny UK can do in 9 months!
      It’s obvious where this is headed.

  • RacialRay

    “Their remittances account for 2 percent of black African GDP.”

    And 100% of white American Ebola cases.

    • IstvanIN

      The White Ebola patients were largely nit-wits who went to Africa to save the natives and then came back.

  • Max

    “…and includes both skilled professionals and less-educated refugees.”

    15 of the former and 1,499,985 who are barely intelligible and practice magic.

  • KenelmDigby

    If you have ever heard that over used and rather tired phrase “A triumph of hope over experience” being used, then, surely this absolutely appalling act of criminal negligence on part of the US government, surely deserves to claim that phrase all to itself.
    Let’s not make any bones about it. The importation of black Africans into the USA was a cataclysm of truly cosmic proportions.
    Importing even more, despite all White Americans with a brain knowing the truth of the situation, is the moral equivalent of pumping cyanide into the drinking water.

    • Yancy Derringer

      Most Somali refugees coming to tbe US wind up in Minnesota, where they live in insular communities. Well over half of the settled community gets food stamps and free medical. The Minneapolis School District is now 11% Somali. That is an absurdly high number.

      In the high schools, gangs of black Americans constantly attack and fight with the Somali blacks, who have formed their own gangs in defense and commit similar attacks on the American blacks. The Somali black gangs do a lot of crime in and out of the Somali community. Of course the Lutheran and Catholic immigration agencies’ web pages don’t mention anything but the nice stuff.

      In 2010, blacks comprised 5.2% of Minnesota’s population and 18.6% of Minneapolis’ population. Those figures have been rising, with the immigration rate increasing and given the Somali’s rapid-fire reproduction rate. By the way, those oh-so-compassionate “church” charities? Their top administrator in Minnesota makes some $450,000 per year. The number two makes $250-275K. Much or most of these salaries comes from federal grants to these agencies — yes, you and I pay these ridiculous sums (and yes, it’s a racket) in exchange for the dependent-for-life black humanity they import into the USA.

      Cheyenne, Wyoming, huh? Damn, that’s sad. Quality-of-life stats are going to tumble there too.

  • fool me once fool me twice

    “Compared to the total foreign-born population, sub-Saharan African immigrants were among the best educated and less likely to be Limited English Proficient (LEP). Sub-Saharan Africans also had a higher rate of health insurance coverage.”———-Then why did they not stay in Africa ? This statement just does not seem to be on the level .

    Mass immigration . For those who cannot remember the 60’s , real conservatives predicted that because of our new , insane immigration act of 1965 , all of the strife the rest of the world was immersed in and America seemed to be immune to would now become the norm for our nation .

    I hope I am wrong , but I predict in less than 20 years this nation will be at war with itself . It will start out with something like exist in Northern Ireland . That may go on for several years .Then it will morph into something more like the Yugoslavian civil war .

  • Fed Up

    Our loss — Black Africa’s gain — those sub-Saharan immigrants. Pretty much says it all.