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Report: Number of Immigrants to the U.S. from Africa On the Rise

The share of immigrants from Africa has been steadily on the rise since the 1970s, according to a new analysis of Census data from the Pew Research Center.

The Pew analysis reveals that as of 2013 African immigrants made up 4.4 percent of the immigrant population in the U.S. up from just 0.8 percent in 1970. As Pew highlights, the foreign-born population of Africans have been nearly doubling each year over the past four decades.

In 1970 there were 80,000 African immigrants in the U.S. In 1980 there were 200,000 African immigrants, 1990 saw 364,000, 2000 had 881,000, and by 2013 the foreign-born African population in he U.S. was 1.8 million.

“When compared with other major groups who arrived in the U.S. in the past five years, Africans had the fastest growth rate from 2000 to 2013, increasing by 41% during that period,” Pew reports. “(Africans are also a rapidly growing segment of the black immigrant population in the U.S., increasing by 137% from 2000 to 2013.)”

Pew points to the Refugee Act of 1980 as a potential source of the increased flow of African immigrants to the U.S. In 1980 less than 1 percent of refugees to the U.S were from Africa. Currently 32 percent of refugees arriving in the U.S. are from Africa and five of the top ten countries of refugee origin were in Africa.

Another reason behind the increase, Pew highlights, is a visa program started in the 1990s intended to increase immigration from under represented nations: “the diversity visa program.”

“Foreign-born Africans come from all over the continent, but the most common countries of origin for African immigrants are Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana and Kenya. These five countries accounted for nearly half of the foreign-born African population in the U.S in 2o13,” Pew reports.

Pew reports that New York, California, Texas, Maryland and New Jersey boast the highest populations of African immigrants.

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