|80,120 (2014 American Community Survey)|
63,334 (Jordanian-born, 2014)
|Regions with significant populations|
|North Jersey and Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Bridgeview and Chicago, and Dearborn, Michigan and Metro Detroit|
|American English Jordanian Arabic|
|Majority: Christianity (Eastern Orthodox) MInority: Islam (Sunni)|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Palestinian Americans, Syrian Americans, Iraqi Americans, Lebanese Americans, Egyptian Americans, other Arab Americans|
Jordanian Americans (Arabic: الأميركيون الأردنيون) are Americans who are descended from the Jordanian people. In 2014, the American Community Survey reported that there were 80,120 Jordanian Americans in the United States.
The history of the Jordanian immigration to the United States is relatively recent. The first identifiable wave of immigration from Jordan to the United States occurred shortly after the Second World War (1945). Those first Jordanians settled in Chicago, (especially in the Near West and Southwest Sides sections), New York City, and the Southwest and West Coast states (i.e. California). 5,762 Jordanians immigrated to the United States in the 1950s.
These early migrants were forced to work as immigrants because of poverty that Jordan suffered at the time, caused by the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, which took place in this small country. They were a group of hard workers. Some of these Jordanians opened retail stores while others managed to earn degrees in business, medicine and engineering. Many men returned with their families to Jordan after working or studying in Chicago and New York for several years. In those early years, people in the Jordanian East Bank and West Bank Palestinians could travel to the United States with Jordanian passports, creating the undefined category "Palestinian – Jordanian."
In the mid 1960s, due to U.S. immigration laws and the Six-Day War of 1967 in Jordan, the number of Jordanians who emigrated to the United States almost doubled: 11,727 Jordanians immigrated. At this time, the majority chose to settle in Western cities and in the southwest of the country, except the wealthy Jordanians who felt more comfortable in the suburbs of large cities. Then in the 1970s, 27,535 Jordanians arrived, reflecting an era of civil strife in Jordan. In the 1980s, immigration averaged was around 2,500 a year. By then, the Jordanian community in the United States had grown at a rapid pace, and it already represented a large population. This was in large part related to the Arab-Israeli war in Jordan, as well as the Black September of 1971. Therefore, a substantial number of Jordanians who settled in the United States at this time were war refugees. The total number of Jordanian immigrants from 1820 to 1984 was 56,720. This wave of Jordanian emigration was due to internal strife in his country, as well as economic issues. Salaries were in the United States were higher than in Jordan, which incentivized workers to immigrate.
Currently, the New York City Metropolitan Area, notably including Paterson, New Jersey, attracts the highest number of legal Jordanian immigrants admitted to the United States. The Little Ramallah community of South Paterson in New Jersey is home to a rapidly growing Jordanian immigrant population. The Jordanian American community in Washington, DC held a candlelight vigil after the death of King Hussein. Chicago also maintains, even today, a large Jordanian population. Together with other Arabs, they practice worship, celebrate holidays, and mobilize politically through networks and organizations like the Professional Association or the Arab American Action Network, various Islamic cultural centers, and local churches and mosques.
In the time period between World War II and the 1980s, most Jordanians immigrants were married men between the ages of 20 and 39, with an above-average educational level as compared to people from the east bank of the Arabian Peninsula. More than 30 percent of those working in the United States were university graduates, and 40 percent were in professional positions. Many immigrants stayed in United States of four and a half to eight years, then returned to Jordan. The United States salaries were higher than those in Jordan, and this attracted immigrants. More than other Middle Eastern immigrants, Jordanians tended to take their families with them when working in the United States. Since the 1980s, many Jordanians have remained in the United States and have formed cohesive communities. As a result, they are much less Americanized, if at all, than groups with longer histories American. Guided by family and friends, these new Americans find comfort in neighborhoods established by others people from their home country. Continued use of their native language and dialect sustains ties with their homeland and delays acculturation. Language is a key factor in the acculturation process. Those who are fluent in English have greater communication and interaction with the majority population. Other factors that can accelerate acculturation include higher education and employment involving more contact with the larger community. Additionally, people from urban areas of Jordan tend to adjust more quickly to America's cities than those from rural areas. Children often adapt more easily to new surroundings and, as other immigrant groups, tend to assimilate faster than their parents. Jordanian Americans have access to national newspapers published in Arabic. There is sometimes a local Arabic newspaper in a community with a large Arab population, such as Detroit. Jordanians generally speak Arabic, but many also speak English.
Employment and Economic traditions
Jordanian Americans hold careers in education, business, engineering, and science. The male-female breakdown in the Jordanian American work force is similar to that in Jordan, with women making up only about 12% of those employed. Many Jordanians come to the United States to pursue advanced degrees in medicine and engineering. Most of the Jordanian students in Western Europe and the United States receive financing from their families, but some obtain assistance from the government of Jordan. Students from Western European and American schools tend to gain the more desirable and prestigious positions on their return home. The perceived higher quality of education in the West helps them make more competitive in the job market.
Jordanian food is popular in the United States, and many cities boast Jordanian restaurants such as the Petra House in Portland, Oregon. Jordanian food is based on traditional Bedouin cooking. In Jordan, the main course usually starts with several varieties of mazza, or hors d'oeuvres, such as humus, fuul, kube, and tabouleh. Felafel consists of deep-fried chickpea balls. Shwarma is spit-cooked sliced lamb. Lentils, called adas in Arabic, are a common ingredient in Jordanian dishes, and there are many recipes for Shorabat 'adas, lentil soup. Magloube is a meat, fish, or vegetable stew served with rice. Jordanian foods are seasoned with spices typical of the Mediterranean, including cumin, garlic, lemons, coriander, and especially saffron. Arabic unleavened bread, or khobz, is eaten with almost everything. A meal finishes with dessert or fresh fruits, and Arabic coffee without which no meeting, whether formal or informal, is complete. Arabic coffee will normally be served continuously during social occasions. To signal that no more is wanted, one slightly tilts the cup when handing it back; otherwise it will be refilled.
Traditionally, lunch is the Jordanians' main meal. They usually have a light breakfast, heavy lunch, and light or no dinner. Some Jordanians do not eat pork, which is forbidden to Muslims.
Interactions with other ethnic groups
The Jordanian-Americans tend to identify with the larger Arab community with whom they share language, culture and Middle Eastern history. Often, they have the same political views, although Jordanian Americans may conflict politically with Israeli organizations in the United States, as well as with the pro-Israel policies of the U.S. government.
The religious affiliations of Jordanian Americans contrast sharply with those of the homeland Jordanians. 94% of Jordan's population practice Sunni Islam, with about 5% practicing Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and a very small percentage of people who practice Shia Islam or other religions. However, the Jordanian American community is almost the opposite, with the majority Christian and eight percent Muslim. This is due to large family tribes migrating together to certain communities. In Chicago the Sweiss family is one of the largest of Jordanian Christian families. The largest group of Jordanian American Christians belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, the next largest to the Roman Catholic Church, and the remainder to Protestant and Evangelical churches. Jordanian American Christians and Muslims often share their church and mosques with compatible congregations from other Arab groups, with the institutions bolstering the identity and cultural continuity.
Politics and Government
Jordanians began arriving in the United States at a time—the latter half of the twentieth century— when their new country was rethinking its own structure. American civil rights laws have helped immigrants to feel that they do not have to totally submerge their ethnic identity in order to fully participate in American society. As a result, Jordanian Americans and members of other groups have felt increasingly secure in taking part in local and national political activity, both inside and outside their own groups' interests. They have welcomed interactions with their mother country as well. In addition, in 1997, Jordan's prime minister deputy opened a Detroit trade show and urged the United States to take a more active role in the peace process in the Middle East.
Jordanians have many organizations in the U.S., including the Jordanian American Association and the Jordanian American Association of New York. The Jordanian American Association is based in South San Francisco, and its goal is to establish social activities for the Jordanian Americans of Northern California The Jordanian American Association of New York aims to relate to Jordanian residents in different parts of the city, and to help establish relationships between them and their families in Jordan.
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