Black Immigration Is Remaking U.S. Black Population, Report Says

Fredrick Kunkle, Washington Post, April 9, 2015

Rapidly growing numbers of black immigrants have reshaped the overall black population in the United States in recent decades, particularly in the District of Columbia and other cities with large U.S.-born, African American communities, a new report says.

A record 3.8 million foreign-born blacks now live in the United States, the Pew Research Center reported Thursday. The influx means that the share of foreign-born blacks, largely from Africa and the Caribbean, has grown from 3.1 percent of the black population in 1980 to 8.7 percent in 2013. By 2060, 16.5 percent of the U.S. black population will be foreign-born, the report says.

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The impact of black immigration has been particularly strong in cities that already had some of the nation’s largest black populations. For instance, in the District, 15 percent of the black population was born outside the United States. In Miami, 34 percent of the black community was born elsewhere. In New York City’s metro area, the number is 28 percent. Nearly half the influx has occurred since 2000, the report says.

Most of the nation’s 40 million U.S.-born blacks trace their heritage to African ancestors who were brought here as slaves. The report also notes that blacks once accounted for nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population at the end of the 18th century.

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Half of black immigrants arrived from the Caribbean, the Pew report says. The largest source is Jamaica, with 682,000 immigrants, followed by Haiti, with 586,000. Jamaican immigrants now make up 18 percent of the black population in the United States, while those from Haiti represent about 15 percent of the U.S. black population.

But a rapidly growing proportion of foreign-born blacks who arrived in the United States in recent years came from Africa, led almost entirely by immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, the report says. Nigeria and Ethiopia have the first and second-most immigrants in the United States, respectively. Many sub-Saharan immigrants–28 percent–were refugees or others seeking asylum.

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In terms of socioeconomic profiles, foreign-born blacks have a median age of 42 years, compared with 29 for U.S.-born blacks. Twenty-six percent have a college education, compared with 19 percent of native-born blacks, and black immigrants are less likely to live in poverty (20 percent versus 28 percent) and have higher incomes. About 48 percent of black immigrants who are 18 years or older are also married, compared with 28 percent of blacks born here, a finding that is likely related to the higher median age among immigrants.

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