Just The Facts

Muslim-American Immigrants

Immigration is rapidly growing the small, but longstanding U.S. Muslim population.

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  • Nearly four in 10 Muslim Americans are U.S.-born.
  • Muslim immigrants to the US identify strongly in surveys with heartland American values and customs.
  • The vast majority – 7 in 10 – of Muslim immigrants in the US already have citizenship today.

1. At some 2.8 million people, the share of Muslims in the total population of the United States is just under 1%.

2. Nearly four in 10 Muslim Americans are U.S.-born.

3. Over 60% of today’s Muslim population in the United States are immigrants – generally people who have arrived since 1965, when U.S. immigration law was revised.

4. On average, according to Pew, Muslim Americans – including U.S.-born and foreign-born residents – track closely with the overall U.S. population on education level and are only slightly less wealthy.

5. Muslim Americans are generally about as religious as their Christian American counterparts and Muslim immigrants to the U.S. identify strongly in Pew surveys with heartland American political values and customs.

6. The vast majority – seven in 10 – of Muslim immigrants in the United States already have obtained U.S. citizenship today.

7. Based on the trends of those Muslim immigrants who arrived in the 1980s or earlier, the rest are nearly universally likely to apply for and receive citizenship in the near future, when they qualify.

8. A significant number of Muslim refugees began arriving in the United States around 1975, as the long and brutal Lebanese Civil War broke out.

9. Several years later, more refugees – including both Muslims and many religious minorities (e.g., Jewish, Christian, Baha’i, Zoroastrian) – fled the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 to come to the United States.

10. The United States was a natural choice for educated Iranian asylum-seekers because Iran had established extensive ties to U.S. academia during the 1960s and early 1970s. Many students who had planned to return after their studies found themselves trapped stateside.

Sources: Pew Research Center, Michigan Radio and Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans.

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