The numbers of Australians and New Zealanders who have immigrated into the United States have never been great, but the increasing numbers of highly skilled and educated immigrants who began entering the country during the late twentieth century have brought with them the potential to make significant contributions to their new homeland.
The earliest waves of Australian and New Zealander immigration to the United States coincided with significant cultural developments. During the late 1840’s and early 1850’s, colonials from Australia and New Zealand arrived along with a flood of immigrants from other parts of the world to California after news of the California gold rush beginning in January, 1848. The discovery of gold represented an important push-pull factor between the United States and Australia and New Zealand during this period. Just as California’s gold rush attracted thousands of Australian and New Zealanders hungry for gold, a gold rush that began in Australia during the early 1850’s attracted thousands of American prospectors. Meanwhile, the building of faster steamships made long-distance transoceanic transportation cheaper and more endurable, and the opening in 1869 of both the Suez Canal and the transcontinental railroad in the United States increased the flow of people between the continental United States and Australia and New Zealand.
Profile of Australian and New Zealander immigrants
*Immigrants who obtained legal permanent resident status in the United States. Source:
Department of Homeland Security, Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, 2008.
Between 1861 and 1976, 133,299 Australians and New Zealanders were recorded as entering the United States. This flow peaked during the years following World War II (1941-1945) as the American economy boomed. The war itself played a role in immigration. In 1944, American servicemen married 15,000 Australian women, who came to the United States as war brides. During the 1950’s, immigration steadily increased with 3,976 Australians entering the United States between 1951 and 1959. A sharp increase occurred during the 1960’s, when 19,562 Australians immigrated to the United States. Another sharp increase in both Australian and New Zealander immigration during between 1971 and 1990, when more than 86,400 Australians andNewZealanders arrived in the United States. The numbers of people immigrating from Australia and New Zealand to the United States grew steadily between 1960 and 1990.
Immigration from Australia, 1870-2008Source:
Department of Homeland Security, Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2008. Figures include only immigrants who obtained legal permanent resident status.
By 1990, the U.S. Census reported that slightly more than 52,000 Americans reported having Australian orNewZealander ancestry. This figure represented less than 0.05 percent of the total U.S. population. The 2000 U.S. Census reported the presence of 45,650 Australian-born noncitizens and 15,315 Australian- born U.S. citizens in the United States. A little more than one-half of these people were female.
U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program
Australia’s contribution to U.S. immigration and security strategies after the terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, offers an interesting insight into global networking. The U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program (US-VISIT), established by the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security, implemented an integrated entry and exit data system to record all entries into and exits out of the United States by covered individuals. It was designed to verify identities of travelers and to confirm their compliance with the terms of their admission to the United States. The key step in implementing these legislative requirements was a test conducted between June and September of 2005 in partnership among Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. The key airports involved were the international airports in Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia. The test evaluated the operational impact of the new technology as well as the performance of the e-Passports and the reader solutions being tested.
In 2006, Australian and New Zealander delegates, together with partners from a number of other Asia Pacific countries, worked in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to devise and endorse a multilateral framework for detecting and preventing the use of lost, stolen, and invalid passports for travel and entry.
As an immigrant group. Australian immigrants are comparatively highly educated. Among those counted in the United States in 2000, 26 percent held bachelor degrees, and 20.3 percent held graduate or professional degrees. Over the next several years, record numbers of Australians left their homeland. Most of these emigrants were younger and better educated than Australia’s general population. Their major destinations have been North America, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Emigrants have been motivated primarily by the attractions of higher salaries, better working conditions, better educational opportunities, and the possibility of better lifestyles in other countries. Although the numbers of emigrants have been relatively small in comparison to Australia’s total population, the consequences of their leaving their country has been significant because they represent a much higher proportion of the country’s future cultural, intellectual, and economic leaders. The other side of this issue is the significant contributions that these well-educated immigrants make to their new homelands.
Immigration from New Zealand, 1920-2008Source:
Department of Homeland Security, Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, 2008. Figures include only immigrants who obtained legal permanent resident status. Incomplete earlier records show only 72 immigrants from New Zealand between 1870 and 1920.
Nicole AnaeFurther Reading
- Bedford, Richard, Elsie Ho, and Jacqueline Lidgard. “Immigration Policy and New Zealand’s Development into the Twenty-first Century: Review and Speculation.” Asian and Pacific Migration Journal 10, no. 3-4 (2001): 585-616. Argues that New Zealand’s indigenous population constitutes the largest share of the total population and has the most prominent role in debates about the development of social and economic policy, including immigration.
- ________. “International Migration in New Zealand: Context, Components and Policy Issues.” In Population of New Zealand and Australia at the Millennium, edited by Gordon Carmichael and A. Dharmalingam. Canberra, A.C.T.: Australian Population Association, 2002. Useful overview of New Zealand’s place in world migration patterns.
- Cuddy, Dennis Laurence. “Australian Immigration in the United States: From Under the Southern Cross in the ‘Great Experiment.’” In Contemporary American Immigration: Interpretive Essays. Vol. 1, edited by Dennis Laurence Cuddy. Boston: Twayne, 1982. Although now old, this study remains an important source of information concerning Australian immigration to the United States before the 1980’s.
- Hugo, Graeme, Dianne Rudd, and Kevin Harris. Emigration from Australia: Economic Implications. CEDA Information Paper 77. Melbourne, Vic.: Committee for Economic Development of Australia, 2001. Study examining the causes and consequences of rising emigration from Australia.
- LeMay, Michael C., ed. The Gatekeepers: Comparative Immigration Policy. New York: Praeger, 1989. Compares immigration policy and politics in the United States, Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Israel, and Venezuela. Helpful in understanding overall immigration issues.
- Lynch, James P., and Rita J. Simon. Immigration the World Over: Statutes, Policies, and Practices. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. International perspectives on immigration, with particular attention to the immigration policies of the United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Japan.
See also: “Brain drain”; California gold rush; History of immigration, 1783-1891; History of immigration after 1891; Immigrant advantage; Pacific Islander immigrants; Push-pull factors; War brides; War Brides Act of 1945.