African Migration to the United States: Assigned to the Back of the Bus
Book Chapter in "Perspectives On The Immigration And Nationality Act Amendments Of 1965" (Editors: Gabriel Chin and Rose Cuison Villazor), Forthcoming
53 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2014 Last revised: 14 Oct 2014
Date Written: 2014
This book project, timed on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 immigration amendments, recognizes many significant effects that the amendments have had on the United States. In many ways — particularly with respect to dramatic demographic changes in Latino and Asian Pacific American communities — the amendments might be regarded as integral to the perpetuation of the United States as a land of immigrants. Yet, when it comes to residents of African descent after the end of slavery, the 1965 changes have had relatively little to do with facilitating the entry of African migrants to our shores.
In this book chapter, I discuss the immigration categories under which African migrants have arrived in the United States and explain how the 1965 framework can facilitate future entry. The review of how African migrants arrived also provides an opportunity to take a closer look at some of their communities across of the country. The examples include Ethiopian, Somali, and West African communities. In the process, their refugee and immigrant experiences in the United States provide us with an overview of the challenges that such migrants face in America.
A close look at African migrants to the United States reveals that the vast majority entered as refugees or under diversity visa lottery program that was established in 1990. Thus, the 1965 Act played little role in facilitating their entry. However, the framework of the Act has provided the basis for some African migration and, if continued, will serve as the foundation for future African immigrants to the United States much as it did for the remaking of Asian America.
Keywords: 1965 immigration amendments, immigration categories, African migrants, Ethiopian, Somali, West African, refugee,
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