5th United States Conference on African Immigrant Health

October 5 - 8, 2017

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Washington DC - Crystal City

AeImforward - Population We Serve

According to the Presidential Memorandum, “Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees,” nearly 40 million foreign-born residents nationwide contribute to their communities every day, including 3 million refugees who have resettled here since 1975.

These new Americans significantly improve our economy; making up 13 percent of the population while being over 16 percent of the labor force and starting 28 percent of all new businesses. Moreover, immigrants or their children have founded more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, which collectively employ over 10 million people worldwide and generate annual revenues of $4.2 trillion.

Immigrants from Africa constitute a diverse and rapidly increasing population in the United States. The number of African immigrants in the United States was estimated at 2.1 million in 2015 (up from 880,000 in 2000) or about 4.8 percent of the total foreign-born population in the United States. According to U.S. Census data, the African foreign-born population more than doubled in size between 2000 and 2013, half of which are naturalized U.S. citizens. When compared with other major groups who arrived in the U.S. in the past five years, Africans had the fastest growth rate from 2000 to 2013, increasing by 41% during that period. (Africans are also a fast-growing segment of the black immigrant population in the U.S., increasing by 137% from 2000 to 2013).  Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, and Kenya are the leading countries of birth for foreign-born persons from Africa in the U.S

African immigrants are an understudied immigration population in the US. AIs are a growing immigrant population with a 40-fold increase between 1960 and 2007, from 35,555 to 1.4 million, with 36 from West Africa.1,2 The states with the highest percentage of African immigrants in their foreign-born populations are North Dakota and Minnesota (both 19 percent), South Dakota (17 percent), Maryland and the District of Columbia (both 15 percent). The Washington D.C metropolitan area has the highest percentage (13 percent) of African immigrants which is more than three times the national percentage (4 percent).2 Furthermore, African immigrants in Baltimore, MD represent 13% of foreign-born persons although the size of this population is relatively small.2


 Historically, AIs and African Americans have been studied as a homogenous racial group, although health outcomes may differ due to differences in SES, culture and genetic admixture.3 Given the growing size of AIs, a paradigm shift in approach to research, gathering health information and program planning is required to reflect the diversity of Blacks in the US. In the Commodore-Mensah et al’ previous study4, overweight/obesity was the most prevalent (88%) cardiovascular disease factor. Hypertension, diabetes and prediabetes prevalence were 40%, 16% and 10% respectively. Notably, only 52% of participants had any health insurance coverage. In a NIH clinical study5, although AIs (N=138) were less obese than African Americans (N=76), AIs had a higher likelihood of previously undiagnosed diabetes/prediabetes than African Americans which suggests that healthcare access may be suboptimal in AIs.

Latinos account for more than half (54%) of total U.S. population growth from 2000 to 2014, reaching 57 million in 2015. U.S. Between 2007 and 2014, the U.S. Hispanic population grew annually on average by 2.8%, down from a 4.4% growth rate between 2000 and 2007 and down from 5.8% annually in the 1990s. Overall, the 10 largest Hispanic origin groups—Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Colombians, Hondurans, Ecuadorians, and Peruvians—make up 92% of the U.S. Hispanic population. In 2013, An estimated 34.6 million Hispanics of Mexican origin resided in the United States. In 2015, an estimated 11 million undocumented Mexicans resided in the United States. Currently, the New Americans from Latin America represent over half of the total foreign-born population. The debate over immigration reform and the ability of many undocumented Hispanics in the U.S. crosses over to health care and the growing concern with health care access.


Obama White House Archives. (2014). Presidential Memorandum -- Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees. Retrieved from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/21/presidential-memorandum-creating-welcoming-communities-and-fully-integra

Pew Research Center, 2017, As Mexican share declined, U.S. unauthorized immigrant population fell in 2015 below recession level, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/25/as-mexican-share-declined-u-s-unauthorized-immigrant-population-fell-in-2015-below-recession-level/

Pew Research Center, 2017, African immigrant population in U.S. steadily climbs, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/14/african-immigrant-population-in-u-s-steadily-climbs/

Pew Research Center. (2015). A Rising Share of the U.S. Black Population Is Foreign Born. Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/04/09/a-rising-share-of-the-u-s-black-population-is-foreign-born/

African Immigration Council. (2012). African Immigrants in America: A Demographic Overview. Retrieved from https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/african-immigrants-america-demographic-overview

Terrazas A. African immigrants in the united states. Migration Information Source. 2009.

Gambino CP, Trevelyan EN. The foreign-born population from Africa: 2008-2012. http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/acs/acsbr12-16.pdf. Updated 2014. Accessed 3/4/2015, 2015.

Commodore-Mensah Y, Dennison Himmelfarb CR, Agyemang C, Sumner AE. Cardiometabolic health in African immigrants to the united states: A call to re-examine research on African-descent populations., Ethnicity & disease. 2015;25(3):373-380.

 Commodore-Mensah Y, Hill M, Allen J, et al. Sex differences in cardiovascular disease risk of Ghanaian and Nigerian-born west African immigrants in the united states: The afro-cardiac study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016;In press.

O'Connor MY, Thoreson CK, Ricks M, et al. Worse cardiometabolic health in African immigrant men than African American men: Reconsideration of the healthy immigrant effect. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2014. doi: 10.1089/met.2014.0026 [doi].

 The United States Census Bureau. (2011). The Foreign Born From Latin America and the Caribbean: 2010. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acsbr10-15.pdf

Pew Research Center. (2016). Key facts about how the U.S. Hispanic population is changing. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/08/key-facts-about-how-the-u-s-hispanic-population-is-changing/

Migration Policy Institute. (2013). Mexican Immigrants in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/mexican-immigrants-united-states-3#1

U.S. Latino Population Growth and Dispersion Has Slowed Since Onset of the Great Recession. Retrieved from http://www.pewhispanic.org/2016/09/08/latino-population-growth-and-dispersion-has-slowed-since-the-onset-of-the-great-recession/

Pew Research Center, (2012). The 10 Largest Hispanic Origin Groups: Characteristics, Rankings, Top Counties. Retrieved from http://www.pewhispanic.org/2012/06/27/the-10-largest-hispanic-origin-groups-characteristics-rankings-top-counties/

Pew Research Center. (2017). Hispanics of Mexican Origin in the United States, 2013,  http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/09/15/hispanics-of-mexican-origin-in-the-united-states-2013/