Afghan Americans

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Afghan Americans
Total population
156,434 (2019)[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
California, Virginia, New York, Texas, Washington, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois[3][4][2][5][6]
Languages
American English, Dari, Pashto[7]
Religion
Predominantly:
Sunni Islam
Minority:
Shia Islam, Judaism,[8] Hinduism, Sikhism,[9] Christianity[10]

Afghan Americans (Dari: آمریکایی‌های افغان‌تبارAmrikāyi-hāye Afghān tabar, Pashto: د امريکا افغانانDa Amrīka Afghanan) are Americans of Afghan descent or Americans who originated from Afghanistan. They form the largest Afghan community in North America with the second being Afghan Canadians. The Afghan Americans may originate from any of the ethnic groups of Afghanistan. They have long been considered by the Board of Immigration Appeals and the United States Census Bureau as White Americans,[11] but a significant number may also identify themselves as Asian Americans.[12][4]

The Afghan community in the United States was minimal until large numbers were admitted as refugees following the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Others have arrived similarly during and after the latest war in Afghanistan.[13][14] Afghan Americans reside and work all across the United States.[6] The states of California, Virginia and New York historically had the largest number of Afghan Americans.[3][4] Thousands may also be found in the states of Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Washington, Oklahoma, Michigan, Idaho, Missouri, North Carolina, and Illinois.[2][5][6][14][15][16] As of 2019, their total number is approximately 156,434.[1]

History and population[edit]

Afghan Americans have a long history of immigrating to the United States, as they have arrived as early as the 1860s.[17] This was around the time when Afghanistan–United States relations were being established. Wallace Fard Muhammad claimed to have been from Afghanistan. A World War I draft registration card for Wallie Dodd Fard from 1917 indicated he was living in Los Angeles, California, as an unmarried restaurant owner, and reported that he was born in Shinka, Afghanistan in 1893.[18] Between the 1920s and 1940s, hundreds of Afghans immigrated to the United States.[19][20][21] Between 1953 and early 1970, at least 230 lawfully entered the United States.[19] Some of them were students who had been granted scholarships to study in American universities.

Afghan refugees and the Refugee Act of 1980[edit]

Afghan refugees statutorily become lawful permanent residents (green card holders) as of the date of their arrival into the United States.

After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, around five million Afghan citizens were displaced. They were compelled to secretly migrate to (or seek refuge in) other countries. These Afghan refugees or asylum seekers found temporary shelter in neighboring Pakistan and Iran, and from there thousands made it to Europe, North America, Oceania, and elsewhere in the world. Under the law, the ones born in Pakistan, Iran or India are not in any way Pakistanis, Iranians or Indians. Their birth certificates and other legal documents confirm that they are citizens of Afghanistan.

Beginning in 1980, Afghan Americans arrived into the United States as families. They were admitted as refugees or asylum seekers. In some cases a family was represented by only one parent due to the death of the other parent. They began settling in the New York metropolitan area, California (mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles-Orange County area) and in other parts of the United States, where large Muslim community centers keep them bonded. Fremont, California, is home to the largest population of Afghan Americans followed by Northern Virginia and then Queens in New York City.[3][2][15] Smaller Afghan American communities also exist in the states of Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Washington, Georgia, Michigan, Idaho, Missouri, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, Colorado, Ohio, Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee and so on.[5][6][4][14] In the city of Chicago, the 2000 census counted 556 Afghan Americans, approximately half of them within the city.[22]

The first arrivals of Afghan families in the early 1980s were mainly the wealthy and from the urban and educated elite. They had rightfully applied for refugee status while temporarily residing in Pakistan and India, and a large number had similarly resided in Germany before their firm resettlement in the United States. The family reunification program brought in less affluent communities from rural Afghanistan, many of which were illiterate and maintained a more traditional village lifestyle.[23]

Child Citizenship Act of 2000[edit]

Those admitted under 8 U.S.C. § 1157 and becoming green card recipients under 8 U.S.C. § 1159(a) are statutorily protected against inadmissibility, even if they are not in possession of their green cards, Afghan passports, Afghan identity cards, or any other legal document.[24] In addition to that privilege or benefit, whenever one parent becomes naturalized all of his or her children statutorily become entitled to naturalization through such American parent.[25] This conferral of American nationality statutorily extends to all of his or her children that are born outside of the United States.[26] All such nationality claims are statutorily reviewable under the federal judiciary of the United States.[27]

Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009[edit]

A U.S. soldier with an Afghan American interpreter in Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.

A news reporter in 2001 randomly stated, without providing any references or sources, that there were 200,000 Afghan Americans.[28] This wild assumption probably included Afghan Canadians. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were approximately 65,972 Afghan-Americans in 2006. The American Community Survey (ACS) estimated a total of 94,726 Afghan foreign-born immigrants were residing and working in the United States in 2016, which shows a 30% increase in the last ten years.[29] Since 2005, thousands of Afghans have been admitted to the United States under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program.[30][5][31][32] Congress passed the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, which was extended in 2014.[33] Afghans who had put their lives at risk during the US-led war in Afghanistan became eligible for SIVs.[34] This program for Afghans created a legal pathway towards U.S. citizenship for the recipients and their immediate family members.[35][36][37]

Culture[edit]

As other immigrants in the United States, Afghan Americans have gradually adopted the American way of life. But many of those who were born in Afghanistan still highly value Afghan culture. For example, they often wear at home Afghan clothes, watch Afghan shows, listen to Afghan music, eat mostly Afghan food, and enthusiastically keep up with Afghan politics. They also value their oral tradition of story telling. The stories they sometimes tell are about Mullah Nasreddin, Afghan history, myths and religions.[19]

Afghan Americans celebrate August 19 as Afghan Independence Day,[38] which relates to August 1919, the date when Afghanistan became fully independent after the signing of the Anglo-Afghan Treaty. Small festivals are held in cities that have Afghan communities, usually at the parks where black, red and green colored Afghan flags are spotted around cars.[39] Eid and Nowruz remain popular festivals for Afghans. The 2021 American sitcom United States of Al features American and Afghan culture.

Ethnicity, race and religion[edit]

Afghan Americans are composed of the various ethnic groups that exist in Afghanistan, which include Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkmen, Baloch, and a number of others.[40] Since 1945, Afghan Americans have been officially classified as Caucasians or White Americans.[11] Afghanistan is often listed as under the category of South Asia but for U.S. Census purposes Afghans are racially categorized as White Americans.[41] Some Afghan Americans, however, may self identify as being Asian Americans, Central Asian Americans or Middle Eastern Americans.[12]

About 99 percent of the 156,434 Afghan American population is Muslim, the majority of whom follow Sunni Islam, with a sizable community of Shia Muslims. Many Afghan Americans residing in Northern Virginia are members of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, which has a number of local branches.[42][43] After the September 11 attacks in 2001, a mosque run by Afghan-Americans in New York City donated blood, held a vigil for those who died inside the World Trade Center (WTC) and funded a memorial for the New York City fire fighters.[44]

The remaining 1 percent of the Afghan American population is not Muslim. There is a community of Afghan Jews in New York City, numbering about 200 families in 2007.[8] Also, a group of Afghan Americans in the Los Angeles area follow Christianity.[10] Hussain Andaryas is an Afghan Christian televangelist who belongs to the Hazara ethnic group.[45] Outside of the Abrahamic faiths, there exists a community of Afghan Hindus and Afghan Sikhs. They are mainly found in the states of New York and Maryland.[9][46]

Economic status[edit]

Northern Virginia has a large Afghan American work force

Many Afghan Americans own real estate in Afghanistan,[47] which in some cases have been lawfully inherited from their earliest ancestors for generations upon generations. Afghan Americans who arrived before the 21st century are mostly found residing near other middle class Americans. Some may be found living in the upper middle class neighborhoods and earning high salaries.

Because the majority of Afghan Americans were originally admitted as refugees under 8 U.S.C. § 1157, the government provided various forms of assistance (welfare) and selected their city of residence.[48][14][13][16] Some[quantify] decided to move to other cities that had larger Afghan communities but most remained in the cities where they first arrived. They gradually left the government assistance programs and eventually mortgaged homes. Their children were sent to colleges or universities. Those who could not achieve this decided to build or franchise small businesses. Others became real estate agents, bank employees, office workers, hotel workers, store clerks, salespersons, security guards, drivers, mechanics, waiters, etc.[4]

Afghan immigrants that were admitted to the United States before 1979 were well educated.[19] In contrast, current immigrants have escaped from totalitarianism, genocide, torture, persecution, mistreatment, and military conflicts. This group has had some trouble coping with learning the English language.[19] Those who have pursued their education in America during the middle of the 20th century and traveled back to Afghanistan faced trouble attaining employment when returning to the United States since their education, often in medicine and engineering, is frequently viewed as outdated.[19] After the 1979 Soviet invasion, Afghanistan's education system worsened, causing many migrants in the late 20th century to place less emphasis on educational attainment.[19]

Like many other immigrants in the United States, Afghan Americans often engage in the operation of small businesses. Many operate American and Afghan restaurants,[47][3] while some have been reported in the 1990s as vendors in Manhattan where they have replaced Greek Americans in the field.[49]

The family incomes of Afghan Americans (specifically, those that were termed "refugees") was a median of $50,000 in 2015. This figure is higher than Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans and slightly higher than Hmong Americans, but lower than Vietnamese Americans.[4]

Notable people[edit]

Politics, academia and literature[edit]

Business and finance[edit]

Sports[edit]

Media and art[edit]

Afghan music singers[edit]

Beauty pageant contestants[edit]

Afghan royalty[edit]

Other[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates: Afghan". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "California and New York are hubs for Afghan resettlements". Washington Examiner. August 24, 2021. Retrieved 2021-08-26.
  3. ^ a b c d "Afghans in New York Look Back on a Strange Decade". The Atlantic. September 2, 2011. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Economic integration of Afghan refugees in the US, 1980–2015" (PDF). World Institute for Development Economics Research. May 2018. Retrieved 2021-08-26.
  5. ^ a b c d "Mapped: Afghan refugees headed to 46 states". Axios (website). September 16, 2021. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  6. ^ a b c d "Country of origin: Afghanistan". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  7. ^ Jonathan H. X. Lee; Kathleen M. Nadeau (2011). Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife. 1. ABC-CLIO. pp. 105–123. ISBN 978-0-313-35066-5. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  8. ^ a b "U.S.: Afghan Jews Keep Traditions Alive Far From Home". Nikola Krastev. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). June 19, 2007. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
  9. ^ a b Ahmadi, Mohammad (May 6, 2018). First Afghan Hindu and Sikh Temple in Maryland a Cultural Bridge. Voice of America. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  10. ^ a b "Afghan Christian Fellowship, Los Angeles". afghanchurch.net. Archived from the original on August 8, 2018. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  11. ^ a b "In the Matter of K, 2 I&N Dec. 253". Board of Immigration Appeals. Casetext.com. May 26, 1945. p. 256. Retrieved 2021-07-23. From an ethnological and scientific point of view, Afghans are unanimously considered to be of the Caucasian race and white persons.
  12. ^ a b Zeweri, Helena (2011). "Afghan American: Identity". In Jonathan H. X. Lee (ed.). Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife. ABC-CLIO. pp. 117–120. ISBN 978-0-313-35066-5. Some of Afghan ancestry might choose Middle Eastern as a way to self-identify, while others might pick Asian based on geographical understand of their ancestral lineage, and still others might pick white (non-Hispanic) because it rings truer to them from a racial classification point of view.
  13. ^ a b "How Biden is resettling Afghans in the US". Washington Examiner. September 1, 2021. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  14. ^ a b c d "Denver ranks among top relocation destinations for Afghan refugees". Axios (website). September 1, 2021. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  15. ^ a b Matthew B. Stannard (August 21, 2009). "Fremont's Little Kabul eyes election with hope". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  16. ^ a b "New York's Divided Afghans". The Baltimore Sun. July 8, 2004. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  17. ^ "Private Mohammed Kahn: Civil War Soldier". catalog.archives.gov. June 23, 2017. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  18. ^ Ancestry.com database, Registration Location: Los Angeles County, California; Roll: 1530899; Draft Board: 17
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Eigo, Tim. "Afghan Americans". Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
  20. ^ "In the Matter of K". Board of Immigration Appeals. Casetext.com. May 26, 1945. Retrieved 2019-10-12. According to the alien registration figures, there are less than 200 Afghans now living in the United States.
  21. ^ "Khan v. Barber, 253 F.2d 547". United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Harvard Law School. March 11, 1958. p. 548. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  22. ^ Daniel Greene (2004). "Afghans". Encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  23. ^ http://www.culturalorientation.net/content/download/2137/12309/version/1/file/The+Afghans+Culture+Profile.pdf
  24. ^ See, e.g., generally
    • 8 U.S.C. § 1181(c) ("Nonapplicability to aliens admitted as refugees")
    • "Smriko v. Ashcroft, 387 F.3d 279". U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Harvard Law School. October 26, 2004.
    • "Tima v. Attorney General, 903 F.3d 272". U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Casetext.com. September 6, 2018. p. 277. So § 1227(a)(1) piggybacks on § 1182(a) by treating grounds of inadmissibility as grounds for removal as well. And the Act has long piggybacked these grounds for removal on these grounds of inadmissibility.
    • "Barton v. Barr, 140 S. Ct. 1442". Supreme Court of the United States. Casetext.com. April 23, 2020. p. 1446. The umbrella statutory term for being inadmissible or deportable is 'removable.'
  25. ^ See, e.g.,
  26. ^ See, e.g., 8 U.S.C. § 1401(g); 8 U.S.C. § 1408(4); 8 U.S.C. § 1452
  27. ^ See generally 8 U.S.C. § 1503; 8 U.S.C. § 1252(b)(5); see also
  28. ^ Ritter, John (September 19, 2001). "'Little Kabul' immigrants apprehensive". USA Today. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  29. ^ "2016 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates: Afghan". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  30. ^ "There Is No Good Reason to Block Afghan Refugees". Cato Institute. August 16, 2021. Retrieved 2021-08-26.
  31. ^ "'Welcome Home': First Group of Evacuated Afghan Interpreters Arrive in US". WMAQ-TV. July 30, 2021. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  32. ^ "Afghan who aided U.S. arrive at Virginia base, but many others remain in peril". Los Angeles Times. July 30, 2021. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  33. ^ Bruno, Andorra (September 12, 2014). Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Programs (PDF). Congressional Research Service (Report). Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  34. ^ "Afghan interpreter for US Army was beheaded by Taliban. Others fear they will be hunted down too". CNN. July 23, 2021. Retrieved 2021-07-23.
  35. ^ "The Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program" (PDF). www.humanrightsfirst.org. 2017. Retrieved 2021-04-04.
  36. ^ "House votes to expand and speed up visa process for Afghans who helped the U.S. during war". CNBC. July 22, 2021. Retrieved 2021-07-23.
  37. ^ "H.R.3985 - Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs Act of 2021". U.S. Congress. Retrieved 2021-07-23.
  38. ^ Vic Kovacs (15 December 2017). Life as an Afghan American. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. pp. 21–. ISBN 978-1-5383-2239-0.
  39. ^ "Embassy Celebrates Independence Day". Afghan Embassy news letter. August 2006. Archived from the original on June 17, 2010.
  40. ^ Robinson, Barbara; Lipson, Julian; Younos, Farid; Mehdi, Mariam (2002). The Afghans : their history and culture. Washington D.C.: Cultural Orientation Resource Center, Center for Applied Linguistics. pp. Chapter 5(B)- The People: The Tajiks and Other Dari-Speaking Groups. OCLC 56081073.
  41. ^ Daniel Perez, Anthony; Hirschman, Charles (March 2008). "The Changing Racial and Ethnic Composition of the US Population: Emerging American Identities". Population and Development Review. 35 (1): 1–51. doi:10.1111/j.1728-4457.2009.00260.x. PMC 2882688. PMID 20539823. The racial codes used in Census 2000 (as well as current American Community Surveys) include 'Afghanistani' are white, while the ancestry codes in the same document list 'Afghan' under South Asia.
  42. ^ "The ADAMS Center is helping Afghan evacuees make a new life in Northern Virginia". Tysons Reporter. August 25, 2021. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  43. ^ https://www.adamscenter.org/
  44. ^ "Troubling times for Afghan-Americans". BBC News. September 26, 2001. Retrieved 2015-03-17.
  45. ^ "The Long Road to Christ: A Muslim's Story". Christian Broadcasting Network. Retrieved 2021-08-26.
  46. ^ "Afghani Sikh and Hindu Community pay tribute to their brethren slain in Afghanistan". The Indian Panorama Newspaper. 6 July 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  47. ^ a b "Exile on Charles Street: Restaurateur Qayum Karzai's life is split between Baltimore and his native Afghanistan". The Baltimore Sun. March 3, 2015. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  48. ^ "'Do Not Give Up': Americans Help Afghans in New Homeland". U.S. News & World Report. August 17, 2021. Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  49. ^ Mirta Ojito (September 18, 1997). "The Face Behind the Bagel - Afghan Newcomers Use Coffee Carts to Succeed As Vendors of New York's Rush-Hour Breakfast". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  50. ^ Fost, Dan (March 21, 2019). "One of the First". East Bay Today. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  51. ^ Tavares, Steven (February 6, 2019). "Aisha Wahab Made History". East Bay Express. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  52. ^ "M. Ishaq Nadiri, Faculty of Department of Economics – NYU". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  53. ^ "Nake M. Kamrany". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  54. ^ "Nake M. Kamrany, Ph.D., J.D." Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  55. ^ "Rising Muslim American leader in D.C. speaks for his generation". Washington Post. November 11, 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  56. ^ a b "Blue Jays: Pitcher Hinshaw comes from exotic background: DiManno". thestar.com. February 21, 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  57. ^ "Authors". Fahim speaks. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  58. ^ Aman Mojadidi (January 27, 2013). "An 'Afghan redneck' creates art in a war zone". CNN. Retrieved 2015-03-17.
  59. ^ "Omar Akram". Last.fm. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  60. ^ "Omar Akram". The GRAMMYs. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  61. ^ Nicole Gordon. "The PokerNews Profile: Hevad Khan". pokernews.com. Retrieved March 17, 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Aslami, Wajma. "The Impact of 9/11 on Afghan-American Leaders." Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship 15.1 (2010): 124+.
  • Baden, John Kenneth. "Through Disconnection and Revival: Afghan American Relations with Afghanistan, 1890-2016." (PhD Diss. Case Western Reserve University, 2018).
  • Cvetkovich, Ann. “Can the Diaspora Speak? Afghan Americans and the 9/11 Oral History Archive.” Radical History Review (2011), no. 111 (2011): 90-100.
  • Eigo, Tim. "Afghan Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 1, Gale, 2014), pp. 17–30. online
  • Lipson, Juliene G., and Patricia A. Omidian. “Afghans.” In Refugees in America in the 1990s: A Reference Handbook, edited by David W. Haines. (Greenwood Press, 1996).
  • Thernstrom, Stephan, ed. Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (1980) pp 3–5.

External links[edit]