Effects of the Economy on Arab Immigration

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Effects of the Great Depression on Immigration

Homeless American during the Great Depression
Source: [1]

The effects of the Great Depression on the United States were apparent, with the falling of the Stock Market and the loss of jobs everywhere. Amongst those affected by this catastrophic event, were the immigrants of the United States. Immigrants lost their jobs, homes, businesses, and savings, just about everything they had. Many of them became homeless, and began living on the streets doing whatever they can to get money for food to feed their children and themselves. Amongst these immigrants were the Arab American immigrants, who were a part of the minority immigrant populations in the United States. The struggles of the time, were seen throughout the nation and the world, and were not strangers to anyone living in those time periods.

Immigration to the United States also decreased drastically in the years following the Great Depression. [1] The United States, at one point, experienced a period of zero growth due to the depression.
Unemployed Americans waiting for help
Source: [2]
Immigrants simply didn’t want to come to a country with such a prolonged effect of the immigration, with massive job losses and homelessness. The future of the United States didn’t look too bright in these years following the depression, and for immigrants, it was better for them to remain in their own countries. Rather than taking the risk and traveling all the way to the United States, only to find it worse, would be devastating, and financially wasteful. Therefore, immigrants simply decided on staying put, causing immigration to decrease dramatically.

The United States was at a point in which all it offered, economic stability, social class growth etc., were no longer offered due to the badly shaped economy. Immigrants who previously came to the United States for economic stability and opportunity no longer had these opportunities because of the depression, and many of their dreams were simply crushed amidst the rubble of the Stock Market Crash.

Effect of Economic Recession on Immigration

Arab American immigrants gathered while praying
Source: [3]

Trends of Arab American Immigration to the United States and the Economic Stability of the United States have an interestingly related relevance. Many immigrants from Arab countries come to the United States for the same reason that most other immigrants come to the United States for, which is economic freedom and stability. The economy of the United States is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, attraction for new immigrants from all over the world, due to the availability of jobs, the ability to rise in social class, and the laws of protection against discrimination, which includes economic discrimination.

During a recession, the economy is unstable and job losses are common; the United States was on track to lose more than 2 million jobs during the past recession. [2] Therefore, during the economic recession, it is not surprising to note that the amounts of immigrants to the United States decreases dramatically, which includes Arab American immigrants. The latest Census Bureau numbers cover the 12 months ending July 1, 2008, and the period includes the first seven months of the recession. [3] These numbers show how the economic downturn has affected the immigration numbers negatively.

Turkish Halal Mart: Arab American Business on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn

The 1990 census data show 73,829 Arab-American and 13,408,206 non-Arab-American entrepreneurs. [4]

Arab Americans as Entrepreneurs

Sixty-four percent of self-employed Arab-Americans own incorporated businesses, compared with only 27 percent of other entrepreneurs. [5] The economy of the United States, therefore, has a great effect on immigrants, including Arab American immigrants who own businesses and work for less stable businesses. The fluctuation of the economy and the rise and fall of sales understandably causes problems for those Arab American immigrants working in business owning industries, taxi industries, and other self-employed jobs like these. This causes the
Education for Arab Americans
economy to have a more direct effect on their labor. These immigrants, however, are a part of what makes the United States economy one of the most stable economies. Therefore, as the immigration numbers increase, the economy seems to do better due to the availability of the hard working middle class immigrants.

One cannot mention the economy of Arab American business without mentioning education. Education is a big part of Arab American success in the United States. Many immigrants come to the United States with nothing, but some of them come with degrees and diplomas. These allow them to settle down in an average paying job, making them a successful story of United States equal opportunity. Education is valued in Arab culture, and the United States is praised for its abundant availability of education for students, whether a part of the upper, middle, or lower class of the country. This is a big part of Arab American economic success in the United States.

Effects of 9/11 on Arab American Business

After 9/11, many Americans developed a stigma against Arab American immigrants, expecting them to have some sort of relation to the attackers on the United States. For this reason, Arab Americans were greatly affected by 9/11, in the years following it, and even until today. From their business production to simply the increased discrimination against them, Arab Americans were definitely negatively affected by the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Some of the specific ways in which Arab Americans were affected were business revenue. Businesses were simply boycotted by many Americans, and people developed a stigma against them, expecting them to be in relations with the United States’ attackers, Al Qaeda.

However, many of these Arab American Immigrants were innocent workers that came for the same reasons that many other immigrants came; economic growth and uprising. However, in the years following 9/11, and even until now, Arab American immigrants would feel the sting of the stigmas from the attacks.
Arab American Businesses on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn
General stereotypes and incorrect ideologies about Arabs were developed, that seem to never die out. The attacks on the United States have changed the United States in many ways, from our security policies and politics, social ideas, and economics. Arab Immigrants would find that times would only get harder, as 9/11 came and left, leaving them all alone in this nation of discrimination.

Arab American Business on 5th Avenue

The Arab American immigrants, however, have not ceased to immigrate to the United States. Arab hopefuls, travel to the United States on a daily basis, to different parts of the nation, in busy cities in search for jobs and opportunities. Cities like Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, and many more are filled with Arab American immigrants, who all come for this same reason. No matter what the economic conditions of the United States is, or the stigmas and social stereotypes developed, these Arab American immigrants have continued and will continue to come to the United States. The United States is still the United States, and what it stands for is always the same, with the same goals and values of equal opportunity for all.

In addition, discrimination was prevalent in the United States, and especially in New York City, after 9/11. Continuous stories of Arab Americans being attacked after 9/11, as well as some innocent people who look like Arab Americans, began being heard of around New York.


1. ^ "Immigration to the United States." United States Immigration: Green Card, Visas and U.S. Citizenship. United States Immigration Support. Web. 01 May 2010. <http://www.usimmigrationsupport.org/immigration-us.html>.

2. ^ Dougherty, Conor. "Recession Slows Migration in U.S. - WSJ.com." Business News & Financial News - The Wall Street Journal - WSJ.com. The Wall Street Journal, 23 Dec. 2008. Web. 01 May 2010. <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122998208060227699.html>.

3. ^ Dougherty, Conor. "Recession Slows Migration in U.S. - WSJ.com." Business News & Financial News - The Wall Street Journal - WSJ.com. The Wall Street Journal, 23 Dec. 2008. Web. 01 May 2010. <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122998208060227699.html>.

4. ^ "Arab American Research." Home Page. Arab American Research. Web. 01 May 2010. <http://arabamericanresearch.com/pages/4/index.html>.

5. ^ "Arab American Research." Home Page. Arab American Research. Web. 01 May 2010. <http://arabamericanresearch.com/pages/4/index.html>.

6. Tung, Larry. "Immigrants Confront the Recession (Gotham Gazette, Nov 2008)." Gotham Gazette - the Place for New York City Policy and Politics. Gotham Gazette, Nov. 2008. Web. 01 May 2010. <http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/immigrants/20081103/11/2735>.

Related Wiki Pages

Home Page

Overview of Arab American Identity

Reasons for Arab Immigration

Effects of 9/11 on Arab American Assimilation