AFRICAN IMMIGRATION to the United States refers to the group of recent immigrants to the United States who are nationals of Africa. The term African in the scope of this article refers to geographical or national origins rather than racial affiliation. Since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, an estimated total of 0.8 to 0.9 million Africans have immigrated to the United States, accounting for roughly 3.3% of total immigration to the United States during this period.
African immigrants in the United States come from a variety of milieus and do not constitute a homogeneous group. They include people from different national, ethnic, racial, cultural and social backgrounds.
As such, African immigrants are to be distinguished from Afro-American peoples of the Americas, the latter of whom are descendants of Black Africans that came to the Americas by means of the historic Atlantic slave trade.Factors contributing to migration
One major factor that contributes to migration from Africa to the United States is inadequate planning of labor supply in certain African countries. This has led to an oversupply of specialized workers and a system that is incapable of supporting them. Furthermore, education in African countries tends to be modeled after educational systems in developed nations and are not very accommodating of local realities. Subsequently, it has been relatively easy for African immigrants to leave and enter international labor markets. In addition, many Africans come to the United States for advanced training. However, this tends to lead a training that is too specialized to be adequately used in their respective home countries. Furthermore, since promotions in Africa are often based on seniority, young professionals eager to jumpstart their careers feel forced to migrate.
It is estimated that the current population of African immigrants to the United States is about 881,300. Countries with the most immigrants to the U.S. are Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt, Somalia, and South Africa. Seventy five percent (75%) of the African immigrants to the USA come from 12 of the 55 countries, namely Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Liberia, Somalia, Morocco, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone and Sudan, which is based on the 2000 census data.
Additionally, according to the U.S. Census, 55% of immigrants from Africa are male, while 45% are female. Age groups with the largest cohort of African-born immigrants are 25-34, 35-44, and 45-54 with 24.5%, 27.9%, and 15.0% respectively.
Africans typically congregate in urban areas, moving to suburban areas over time. They are also less likely to live in segregated areas. The goals of Africans vary tremendously. While some look to create new lives in the U.S., some plan on using the resources and skills gained to go back and help their countries of origin. Either way, African communities contribute millions to the economies of Africa through remittances.
Immigrants from Africa typically settle in heavily urban areas upon arrival into the U.S. Areas such as Washington, D.C., New York, Columbus, Ohio, Atlanta and Minneapolis have heavy concentrations of African immigrant populations. Often there are clusters of nationalities within these cities. The longer African immigrants live in the United States, the more likely they are to live in suburban areas.
African immigrants to the U.S. are among the most educated groups in the United States. Some 48.9 percent of all African immigrants hold a college diploma. This is more than double the rate of native-born white Americans, and nearly four times the rate of native-born African Americans.
Of the African-born population in the United States age 25 and older, 87.9% reported having a high school degree or higher, compared with 78.8% of Asian-born immigrants and 76.8% of European-born immigrants, respectively.
African immigrants tend to retain their culture once in the United States. Instead of abandoning their various traditions, they find ways to reproduce and reinvent themselves. Because of the extremely diverse nature of African ethnic groups, there is no single African immigrant identity. However, cultural bonds are cultivated through shared ethnic or national affiliations.
Many local cable channels are now purchasing programming channels operated by the various African communities. For example, Channel Africa is now available in some TV networks in the US.
News services such as the Nigerian Television Authority, South African Broadcasting Channel and Ethiopian Television Programming are also available in some areas.
Nigerian Nollywood films and Ghanaian films can now be rented or purchased from Nigerian and Ghanaian stores.
Immigrants from Africa have also opened up a number of restaurants in urban areas. The DC Metro area hosts many eateries belonging to the Ethiopian, Kenyan, South African and West African communities.