July 21, 2021


African immigrants are uniquely poised to influence US policy (Yaw Okyere Thompson,  July 21, 2021, Quartz)

Before a crowded room of election-night supporters--many of whom looked like her--newly elected congresswoman Ilhan Omar described the historic occasion of her victory. "I stand here before you with many firsts behind my name: The first woman of color to represent our state in Congress; the first woman to wear a Hijab to represent us in Congress; the first refugee elected to Congress; and one of the first Muslims elected to Congress." The Somali American politician paved the way to victory with the support of the Somali community in Minnesota.

Increasingly, the African immigrant community bears the hallmarks of a group well on the way to self-determination within the American political system. In a way, they are not much different from the American Jews who built the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) into one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington, or the Cuban Americans who could be considered political gatekeepers in Florida, one of the most important swing states on the electoral college map.

As of 2018, sub-Saharan African immigrants made up 44% of all black immigrants to the US, with almost 20% of them listing Nigeria, Ethiopia, or Ghana as their country of birth. Many others were refugees, or the children of refugees, who were granted asylum in the US in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, and the armed conflicts that defined the great lakes in subsequent years. And a growing number of them are settling in states critical to the presidential elections, including Florida, Texas, and Ohio.

Beyond their numbers, African immigrants are among the highest educated when compared to other growing immigrant populations and native-born US population, which is correlated with earnings potential and has an impact on their naturalization prospects. As capable taxpayers and consumers, they are important contributors to the US as a whole, and critical to smaller cities scattered across the country that needed revitalization in the wake of globalization and the changing nature of work.

Posted by at July 21, 2021 3:28 PM