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In this Backgrounder, the terms "immigrant" and "foreign-born" are used synonymously. Figure 1 reports the number of Middle Eastern immigrants living in the United States from 1970 to 2000.
The definition of foreign-born is the same as that used by the Census Bureau — persons living in the United States who were not U. The figure shows very dramatic growth in this population over the last 30 years.
Just since 1990, the Middle Eastern population has grown by 80 percent.
As a share of the total foreign-born, those from the Middle East now account for about 5 percent, compared to 2 percent of the total immigrant population in 1970. S.-born children (under 18) who have at least one parent born in the Middle East.
Over the same period, the total foreign-born population grew at half the rate of the Middle Eastern population.
Nor do they include the grandchildren, great grandchildren, or even longer descendants of immigrants from that part of the world.
Because all children born in the United States to immigrants are by definition natives, the sole reason for the dramatic increase in the Middle Eastern immigrant population is new immigration. The data are from an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies of the public use files of the decennial censuses (1970, 1980, and 1990), the just-released Census 2000 Supplemental Survey (C2SS), and a combined sample of the March 20 Current Population Survey.
While some immigrants die and others return home, the issuance of permanent residency visas and the settlement of illegal aliens greatly exceed deaths and out-migration, so the immigrant population continues to grow. Immigrants from the Middle East have come to the United States for at least 100 years.
In the aftermath of September 11, there has been heightened interest in the Middle Eastern immigrant population living in the United States.
Their integration and incorporation into American society has come to be seen as increasingly important.