Argentinean immigration

2011-01-26 08:37:36

Argentineans first arrived in the United States and Canada in significant numbers during the 1960s, primarily seeking economic opportunities. In the 2000 U.S. census, 100,864 Americans claimed Argentinean descent, compared to 9,095 Canadians in their 2001 census. Most Argentinean immigrants, many of Italian origin, settled in large metropolitan areas, with New York and Los Angeles being most popular. More than half of Argentinean Canadians live in Ontario, with most having settled in Toronto.
Argentina occupies 1,055,400 square miles of southern South America between 21 and 55 degrees south latitude. Bolivia and Paraguay lie to the north and Brazil, Uruguay, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The Andes Mountains stretch north to south along Argentina’s western border with Chile. East of the mountains lie heavily wooded areas known in the north as the Gran Chaco. The Pampas, an area of extensive grassy plains, cover the central region of the country. In 2002, the population was estimated at 37,384,816, with more than 12 million in the urban vicinity of Buenos Aires. The majority practice Roman Catholicism. Beginning in the early 16th century, Spanish colonists migrated to Argentina, driving out the indigenous population. In 1816, colonists gained independence, and by the late 19th century Argentina was competing with the United States, Canada, and Australia for European immigrants. By 1914, 43 percent of Argentina’s population was foreign born, with most coming from Spain, Italy, and Germany.
Military coups slowed modernization from 1930 until 1946 when General Juan Perón was elected president. Perón ruled until 1955, when he was exiled by a military coup. Military and civilian governments followed until Perón’s reelection in 1973. In 1976, a military coup ousted Perón’s wife, Isabel, who had assumed the presidency following her husband’s death in 1974. During the Dirty War (1976–83), approximately 30,000 opponents of the right-wing regimes that succeeded Perón were tortured and killed, leading to increased international interest in Argentine refugees. In 1978, the United States launched the Hemispheric 500 Program, providing parole for several thousand Chilean and Argentinean political prisoners. In the following year, Canada created a new refugee category for Latin American Political Prisoners and Oppressed Persons. In both cases, the standards for entry were higher than for refugees from Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, where applicants were fleeing from communist regimes, leading critics to argue that immigration policy was being driven by cold war concerns.
As the military’s hold on power weakened, Argentina invaded the British-held Falkland Islands in April 1982 but surrendered them less than three months later. The national economy thereafter faced prolonged recession, leading many professionals to continue to seek employment in the United States and Canada. Argentines are economically better off than most Hispanic immigrant groups and less likely to live in communities defined by ethnicity.
Prior to 1960, the U.S. Census Bureau did not separate Hispanic nationalities, so it is difficult to determine exactly how many Argentineans had entered the United States before that time. By the 1970 census, however, there were 44,803 living in the United States, most of whom were welleducated professionals. A second wave of immigration began in the mid-1970s, with refugees fleeing the Dirty War of the right-wing military regime. By 1990, almost 80 percent of Argentinean Americans had been born abroad. Between 1992 and 2002, Argentinean immigration averaged about 2,500 annually.
A very limited Argentinean immigration to Canada began early in the 20th century, the most notable being a small community of about 300 Welsh Argentines who relocated to Saskatchewan. Between passage of the Immigration Act of 1952 and the early 1970s, Argentinean immigration averaged several hundred per year, driven both by Argentina’s economic decline and by Canada’s new provisions for highly trained immigrants. Between 1973 and 1983, rapid inflation and government oppression during the Dirty War led an average of more than 1,000 Argentineans to relocate to Canada. Of 13,830 Argentinean immigrants in Canada in 2001, 3,180 arrived between 1971 and 1980, 2,790 between 1981 and 1990, and 4,200 between 1991 and 2001.