Is it true that 100,000 Copts emigrated in 2011?Posted: April 13, 2012
A number of newspaper articles have suggested that over 100,000 Copts have emigrated to North America from Egypt in the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution. Surprisingly no one has checked this number in any meaningful way. The Egyptian government is of no help in this matter and one must seek the answer in a combination of indirect numbers and mathematical models.
It is assumed that the vast majority of these immigrants left for the US. We can try to estimate the number of Egyptians arriving into the US as a lower bound on the number. We can use the US immigration figures and a set of simple models to estimate the numbers of potential Egyptian immigrants, which includes of course both Muslims and Copts. In the year 2011 the US awarded about 1 Million “green cards”. Egyptian immigrants are about 10% of all African immigrants ( http://www.migrationinformation.org/feature/display.cfm?ID=250#4 ). The US census indicates that “others” (http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/acsbr09-15.pdf) account for 38% of all immigrants in the US. “Others” means countries outside Mexico,Central America and East Asia. That means the maximum number of African continent immigrants who obtained a green card in 2011 is 380,000, and the probable number is less than half of that, since South Asia and Europe typically have larger numbers than Africa. If Africa contributed about 200,000 green cards in 2011, and if Egypt is typically 10% of Africa, then the number of Egyptians could not have exceeded 20,000. The number of Copts would have to be less than that. One of course can not rule out the possibility that many Copts immigrated using green cards awarded prior to 2011. However, US residency requirements are such that this number can not add more than a factor of 2. The maximum number of Copts immigrating to the US in 2011 according to this model is 40,000.
There is also another measure of the size of this immigration. Most Copts upon arriving in the US join a local parish. The Coptic population is concentrated in a few states. A cursory survey of a few parishes in such areas as New York, New Jersey reveals no unusual number of new immigrants. If a 100,000 new Coptic immigrants arrived in the US, one would expect roughly 25% to be in the New York area, and a similar fraction in Southern California and other Southern states. There is simply no indication that Coptic parishes are receiving such a large influx of Copts.
In the absence of exact and reliable numbers one has to rely on models and extraoplated numbers. Even under the most generous estimates the number of 100,000 Copts arriving in North America during 2011 seems highly unlikely.