For Black History Month, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is highlighting the unique issues facing the black immigrant community in the United States– often overlooked and unseen, even as they have quadrupled from 800,000 to 3.8 million over the last four decades.
President Donald Trump has made repeated remarks that demean black immigrants, saying that Nigerian immigrants do not want to “go back to their huts,” and that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS,” and, more recently, that black immigrants should go back to “shithole countries.” Additionally, he and his administration ended or attacked programs from which black immigrants have benefited, such as Temporary Protected Status, Diversity Visas and family reunification.
As Black History Month is celebrated in February, below are five fast regarding black immigrants in the United States.
1. Black immigrants are 9 percent of the United States’ black population. They come from the following top five countries: Jamaica (693,000), Haiti (654,000), Nigeria (304,000), Ethiopia (237,000) and Trinidad and Tobago (171,000). In the New York metropolitan area, black immigrants make up more than one out of every four black residents—or, 28 percent of the population.
2. The majority of black immigrants are here legally. A total of 54 percent of black immigrants are U.S. citizens. Of the sub-Saharan immigrants who have become legal permanent residents, 17 percent came through the Diversity Visa program and about 22 percent of African immigrants are refugees. African countries receive nearly half nearly—46 percent—of all diversity visas.
Most Caribbean immigrants obtain lawful permanent residence status in the United States through three main channels: qualifying as immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen, through family reunification or refugee and asylum relief.
3. In 2012, 575,000 black immigrants were undocumented, accounting for 16 percent of all black immigrants.
Roughly, 3 percent—or 36,000 African immigrants—would have been eligible for DACA.
4. A total of 29 percent of black immigrants, ages 25 and older, hold a bachelor’s or advanced degree. The education attainment rates for black immigrants are similar to those for native-born Americans at 32 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Specifically, African immigrants average about 14 years of schooling, while native-born Americans average about 13.5 years.
5. The NYIC’s Black Immigrant Engagement Initiative (BIEI) is the first initiative in New York—and one of the first in the country—to focus on supporting New York’s black immigrant-led, community-based organizations and legal service providers. BIEI members engage African, Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Latino community members through outreach, direct legal services, advocacy and mobilization efforts that integrate the black immigrant experience into the greater immigrant rights movement and intersectional movements, such as Black Lives Matter.
BIEI is led by six member organizations—African Services Committee, African Communities Together, Brooklyn Defenders Service, CAMBA, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees and Sauti Yetu—and engages dozens more in partnerships.
The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that works with immigrants and refugees.