Although it is unknown when Yemenis first arrived, it is believed that Yemenis were immigrating to the U.S. after 1869, and are recorded in the 1890s. Some Yemenis gained U.S. citizenship by fighting in World War I and World War II. Yemenis immigrants settled in existing Lebanese communities in cities like New York. They were outcast as Muslims, as the Lebanese communities were predominately Christian, as were Syrian and Palestinian communities. After becoming situated, many Yemenis traveled westward for better job opportunities. In many places of United States, such as Chicago, Brooklyn (New York), and South Dearborn (Michigan), the first Yemeni entrepreneurs were owners of cafes and liquor stores. However, these companies are not characteristic of Yemeni culture, and it is likely that they have been owners of cafes under the influence of Lebanese and Palestinian communities longer. Many Yemeni also worked in factories in the Midwest and on farms in the San Joaquin Valley in California. Thus as in factory workers in Detroit, Canton, Weirton, and Buffalo. Since the Great Depression of 29 and until 1945, end of World War II, Yemeni immigration to United States slowed dramatically, increasing from this year (1945). In 1945, many Yemenis emigrated to United States from Vietnam, where many Yemenis had worked in warehouses, shops, and on the docks. Many Yemeni immigrants had the status of illiterate, already that not knew literate in Arab, that was their mother tongue. Because to this they could bypass regulations and were admitted. When in 1965 the quota system for immigration was eliminated, Yemenis could more easily gain visas to reside in the U.S. and get a job in this country, prompting a great increase in the numbers of Yemenis immigrants. Another feature of Yemeni immigrants in the U.S. is that in the years of immigration that occurred to 1970, nearly all immigrants from Yemen were adult males.
Although the overwhelming majority of Yemeni Americans are Muslim, there are also some American Jews of Yemeni ancestry, mostly whose parents or ancestors came to the U.S. via Israel. Significant Yemeni communities exist in Brooklyn, New York; Buffalo, New York; Lackawanna, New York; Dearborn, Michigan; Hamtramck, Michigan; Falls Church, Virginia; Chicago, Illinois; Bakersfield, California; Oakland, California and Fresno, California. About 15,000 Yemeni Americans live in Michigan. A significant population of Yemeni Americans live in the southside of Dearborn (Salina area). A few Yemenis had arrived in Michigan around 1900 but a much larger group came to work in the Ford Motor Company's Rouge Plant in the 1920s. Immigration to Michigan is still occurring. A survery of Arab Americans in the Detroit area after 9/11 found that Yemenis made up 9% of the area's Arab population and that Yemenis had the largest families, the lowest rate of business ownership (3% compared to 20% for other Arab groups), and a high rate of employment in "trades" as opposed to services, administration, professional or sales (43 percent in trades compared to 7 to 17 percent for other Arabs groups). Anthropologist Loukia K. Sarroub while investigating the Dearborn Yemeni culture through the perspective of 6 high-school age girls noted that the community was "a ghetto-like enclave of Dearborn" and a "'Yemeni village' in the United States" where "this community continued to live much as they did in Yemen".
There is an estimated 35,000-50,000 Yemenis living in the United States as of 2010.
Sally Howell, author of Howell, "Competing for Muslims: New Strategies for Urban Renewal in Detroit", wrote that Yemeni people had a presence in the Metro Detroit area since the late 1960s and "they have participated more actively in transnational practices than have other Arab Americans".
Yemeni Americans speak both English and Arabic. They speak many different dialects of Arabic, including: Sanaani or Northern Yemeni dialect, Ta'izzi-Adeni or Southern Yemeni dialect, Hadrami dialect, Mehri dialect, and Judeo-Yemeni dialect. Most of them are Muslim.
The Yemeni American Net was established in June 2007 as a web-site dedicated to bring a view to the world on the Yemeni Americans. One year later, a newspaper was established as the Yemeni American nNews. The American Association of Yemeni Scientists and Professionals promotes Yemenis in technical fields and provides a college scholarship program. The Yemeni American Association and the Yemeni American Benevolent Association also provide scholarships.
Howell, Sally. "Competing for Muslims: New Strategies for Urban Renewal in Detroit". Located in: Shryock, Andrew (editor). Islamophobia/Islamophilia: Beyond the Politics of Enemy and Friend. Indiana University Press, June 30, 2010. ISBN 0253004543, 9780253004543.