How many US immigrants come from Trump's seven banned countries?

Americans who once emigrated from Muslim-majority countries reacted with fear to the announcement on Friday that immigrants from several such countries will now have to undergo “extreme vetting”.

The executive order announced on Friday suspends entry to the US for all refugees for 120 days, indefinitely for those from Syria. All entries by people from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen have been suspended for 90 days, including valid visa-holders, legal residents and green-card holders.

Donald Trump, who claims the policy is intended to keep out terrorists, said in a speech on Friday that “we don’t want them here”.

In anticipation of the executive order, the American Iranian council said in a statement on Thursday that the ban would be “inappropriate and ineffective in the fight against terror”.

On its website, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said the new policies were “tantamount to an Arab and Muslim ban”.

It added that the bans “have nothing to do with national security – they are based off Islamophobia and xenophobia”. The civil rights group also offered advice to those worrying about how they might be affected.

How many immigrants come from the seven banned countries?

A large share of the US population are immigrants: one in eight people (13% of the total population, 16% of all adults) was born abroad, according to the Census Bureau. But only a small fraction were born in countries affected by the temporary ban.

As of 2012, there were 781,235 residents of the US who were born in countries affected by the ban – just 2% of all immigrants.

Most immigrated long ago. Census Bureau data analysed by Pew Research Center reveals that a third of US residents who immigrated from the Middle East did so before 1990.

Pew’s analysis also shows that many immigrants from the region now work in management (11%), healthcare (11%) or education (8%) – only 1% were unemployed as of 2012. Some have been able to become US citizens; only half of all US immigrants were naturalized as of 2012.

US immigration from countries now affected by a temporary ban. For some, data is unavailable prior to 1980.

US immigration from countries now affected by a temporary ban. For some, data is unavailable prior to 1980. Photograph: Migration Policy

The largest share of those immigrants is from Iran (370,000), followed by Iraq (170,000). But the number of immigrants has fluctuated over time as the security situation in those countries has changed (and, often, as US foreign policy toward those countries has changed).

After the US-led invasion of Iraq, the Middle East saw the largest refugee crisis since the Palestinian exodus from Israel in 1948. That has now been surpassed by the Syrian refugee crisis.

  • Those seeking legal advice about how they might be affected by Trump’s latest policies can contact their affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union here
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