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Abstract

According to the South African Forced Migration Studies Programme, there are between one and three million African immigrants currently residing in South Africa ( Jolly, 2008). There were 57,899 official refugees and 219,368 registered asylum seekers as of January 2012, which is the highest number of asylum seekers out of any country in Africa and the world (UNCHR, 2012). Immigration from other African countries into South Africa has implications for the economy, politics, health and education services, South Africa’s role in the greater African continent, and ideas about human rights. As such, African immigration, both documented and undocumented, is an increasingly prominent national issue.

This study seeks to answer two core questions. First, what are the general experiences of African immigrants in South Africa? Secondly, what social tensions exist between immigrants and South African Coloreds and Blacks 1? Drawing from my own localized, qualitative findings and national studies and statistics, I explore the challenges immigrants face, the violence that sometimes erupts, the nature of social and economic tensions between immigrants and South African Coloreds and Blacks, and the factors that contribute to economic competition.

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