E.g., 07/30/2014
E.g., 07/30/2014

Iraqi Immigrants in the United States

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Iraqi Immigrants in the United States

Source Spotlights are often updated as new data become available. Please click here to find the most recent version of this Spotlight.

With the war in Iraq intensifying, there is increased interest in the Iraqi population in the United States. This Spotlight uses official U.S. census and immigration statistics to describe the Iraqi foreign born.

Click on the bullet points below for more information:

Census 2000 reported there were approximately 90,000 immigrants born in Iraq residing in the United States.

For a small foreign-born group such as the Iraqi, the best data source available for estimating the size of the population is the national census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 89,892 immigrants born in Iraq living in the United States in 2000. Results from the 2002 Current Population Survey suggest that the size of the Iraqi population remained fairly constant between 2000 and 2002. By comparison, there were 44,916 Iraqi foreign born in 1990, indicating the population doubled in size over the decade.

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More than one-third of Iraqis now living in the United States entered as refugees or were granted refugee status after entering.

According to State Department data reported by the Immigration and Refugee Services of America, 32,187 Iraqis entered the United States as refugees between 1989 and 2002. Several thousand more have been granted refugee status after entering. Refugees are people who have fled their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, national origin, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

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Iraqis comprise less than one percent of the total foreign-born population in the United States.

Overall, there were 31.1 million foreign born nationwide in 2000. The foreign-born Iraqi population accounted for less than 0.3 percent of all foreign born in the United States.

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Iraqi immigrants represent approximately 14 percent of all immigrants from Western Asia.

According to Census 2000, there were 658,603 immigrants from Western Asia, a census category that includes Iraq as well as Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Armenia. The foreign born from Western Asia represented 2.1 percent of the immigrant population. The foreign born from Iraq comprised 13.6 percent of all immigrants from Western Asia.

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The states with the largest Iraqi foreign-born populations are Michigan, California, and Illinois.

In 2000, the states with the largest Iraqi foreign-born populations were Michigan (31,927), California (20,532), and Illinois (9,634). The remaining seven states with the largest Iraqi immigrant populations include Tennessee (2,766), Texas (2,752), New York (2,721), Arizona (2,456), Virginia (1,841), Missouri (1,275), and Pennsylvania (1,209).

 

Table 1: Ten States with the Largest Iraqi Foreign-Born Populations, 2000
States
Number of Iraqi Foreign Born
Total Foreign-Born Population
Percentage of Total That Is Iraqi
UNITED STATES
89,892
31,107,889
0.28%
Michigan
31,927
523,589
6.10%
California
20,532
8,864,255
0.23%
Illinois
9,634
1,529,058
0.63%
Tennessee
2,766
159,004
1.74%
Texas
2,752
2,899,642
0.09%
New York
2,721
3,868,133
0.07%
Arizona
2,456
656,183
0.37%
Virginia
1,841
570,279
0.32%
Missouri
1,275
151,196
0.84%
Pennsylvania
1,209
508,291
0.24%

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The cities with the largest Iraqi immigrant populations are Detroit, Chicago, and San Diego.

Detroit had the largest number of Iraqi foreign born (30,569), according to Census 2000, followed by Chicago (9,513) and San Diego (7,507). The remaining seven cities with the largest Iraqi immigrant populations include Los Angeles (5,499), Phoenix/Mesa (2,343), Nashville (2,143), Washington, DC (1,797), New York (1,507), San Jose (1,175), and Dallas (1,056).

 

Table 2: Ten Cities with the Largest Iraqi Foreign-Born Populations, 2000
Cities
Number of Iraqi Foreign Born
Total Foreign-Born Population
Percentage of Total That Is Iraqi
Detroit, MI
30,569
335,107
9.12%
Chicago, IL
9,513
1,425,978
0.67%
San Diego, CA
7,507
606,254
1.24%
Los Angeles, CA
5,499
3,449,444
0.16%
Phoenix, Mesa, AZ
2,343
457,483
0.51%
Nashville, TN
2,143
57,614
3.72%
Washington, DC
1,797
832,016
0.22%
New York, NY
1,507
3,139,647
0.05%
San Jose, CA
1,175
573,130
0.20%
Dallas, TX
1,056
591,169
0.18%

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Between 1989 and 2001, just over 49,000 Iraqi foreign born immigrated to the United States.

According to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly a part of the Immigration and Naturalization Service), 49,006 Iraqi foreign born immigrated to the United States between 1989 and 2001.

 

Table 3: Immigrants Admitted into the U.S. per Year, 1989 to 2001
Year
From All Countries
From Iraq
TOTAL (1989 to 2001)
12,787,142
49,006
1989
1,090,924
1,516
1990
1,536,483
1,756
1991
1,827,167
1,494
1992
973,977
4,111
1993
904,292
4,072
1994
804,416
6,025
1995
720,461
5,596
1996
915,900
5,481
1997
798,378
3,244
1998
654,451
2,220
1999
646,568
3,372
2000
849,807
5,134
2001
1,064,318
4,985

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Between 1991 and 2001, over 25,000 immigrants born in Iraq became United States citizens.

According to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly a part of the Immigration and Naturalization Service), 25,710 Iraqi-born immigrants naturalized between 1991 and 2001.

 

Table 4: Citizens Naturalized in the U.S. per Year, 1991 to 2001
Year
From All Countries
From Iraq
TOTAL (1991 to 2001)
6,228,097
25,710
1991
308,058
1,684
1992
240,252
1,203
1993
314,681
1,545
1994
434,107
1,808
1995
488,088
1,609
1996
1,044,689
2,309
1997
598,225
1,621
1998
463,060
2,033
1999
839,944
3,230
2000
888,788
5,217
2001
608,205
3,451