(September 2002) Newly released data from Census 2000 show that on April 1, 2000, there were just under 90,000 people born in Iraq resident in the United States. Answers to a separate Census question, asking about residents’ ancestry or ethnic origin, show 33,000 people claiming only “Iraqi” ancestry — nearly 38,000 if those who wrote in another reply as well as “Iraqi” are included. A further 82,000 people were reported as “Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac,” descendants of the indigenous, mainly Christian people of the area that is now Iraq. Nearly 206,000 others gave their ancestry as “Arabic” without specifying a country of origin, and many of them are likely to be from Iraq. Of those reporting Iraqi ancestry, 29 percent live in Michigan; of those reporting Assyrian, Chaldean, or Syriac ancestry, 42 percent live in Michigan.
These estimates are derived from the long form of the Census, which went to a sample of about 19 million households (one-sixth of all households in the United States). It included questions on each resident’s place of birth, citizenship, and ancestry or ethnic origin, among other topics. It did not include questions about immigration status or religion. The census is meant to cover everyone living or staying here on April 1, 2000. The foreign-born who were counted thus include legal immigrants who intend to stay permanently, temporary visitors like students or business executives who have been assigned to work here, and those who are in the country without authorization. More than 31 million U.S. residents were born in other countries, so the Iraqis constitute less than three-tenths of 1 percent of the foreign-born population.