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In the second half of the 20th century, Tamils from India migrated as skilled professionals to the United States, Canada, Europe, and Southeast Asia. The Tamil American population enumerates over 130,000 individuals, and the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America functions as an umbrella organization for the growing community as such.
Central New Jersey is home to the largest population concentration of Tamils. New Jersey houses its own Tamil Sangam. Sizeable populations of Indian American Tamils have also settled in New York City and the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area, as well as on the West Coast in Silicon Valley, where there are Tamil associations such as the Bay Area Tamil Manram. The New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas are home to the largest concentrations of Tamil-speaking Sri Lankan Americans, with New York City's Staten Island alone estimated to be home to more than 5,000 Sri Lankan Americans, one of the largest Sri Lankan populations outside Sri Lanka itself, and a significant proportion of whom speak Tamil.
The Tamil community in the United States is largely bilingual. Tamil is taught in weekly classes in many Hindu temples and by associations such as the American Tamil Academy in South Brunswick, Tamil Jersey School in Jersey City, New Jersey, The written form of the language is highly formal, and quite distinct from the vernacular that people actually speak. A few universities, such as the University of Chicago and the University of California Berkeley, have graduate programs in the language.
The Tamil community is largely connected to the Hindu community, along with other groups from South India. In most Hindu temples in the United States, the prayers are in Sanskrit. However, in North Brunswick, New Jersey, the "Tamil Temple" ("Thamil Ammai Thirukkoyl") conducts all the prayers and Tamil. The Hindu Temple in Houston, Texas, is dedicated to Meenakshi, a Tamil manifestation of the goddess Parvati. There is an active Christian minority as well.
2009 Tamil diaspora protests
Tamil Americans participated in the worldwide Tamil diaspora protests in 2009, where they urged national and world leaders and organizations to take action toward bringing a unanimous cease fire to the Sri Lankan Civil War. Protests occurred in the United States, concurrently with other protests in other parts of the world. They were organized by local Tamil American groups, with the help of Tamil Canadians. Major protests occurred on several occasions in Washington, D.C. near the White House, as well as smaller scale protests in New York City.
Notable Tamil Americans
- Ashok Amritraj - film producer
- Aziz Ansari - actor and stand-up comedian
- Shiva Ayyadurai - scientist
- Sunkrish Bala - actor
- Krishna Bharat - computer scientist and founder of Google News
- Jay Chandrasekhar - actor and director
- Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar - astrophysicist
- Ananda Coomaraswamy - philosopher
- Pragathi Guruprasad - Indian playback singer
- Kamala Harris - Attorney General of California
- Vijay Iyer - pianist
- Clarence Jey - record producer and songwriter
- Mindy Kaling - actress
- Sukanya Krishnan - American news anchor
- Padma Lakshmi - entrepreneur, model, and chef
- G. V. Loganathan - Indian-born American professor and a victim of the Virginia Tech massacre
- Mary Anne Mohanraj - writer
- Sendhil Mullainathan - economist, Harvard professor
- Indra Nooyi - CEO of PepsiCo Incorporated
- Arogyaswami Paulraj - wireless researcher, winner of Marconi Prize
- Sundar Pichai - CEO of Google
- C.K. Prahalad - late world-renowned management guru
- Raghuram Rajan - economist, winner of Fischer Black Prize
- Raj Rajaratnam - founder of Galleon Group
- V. S. Ramachandran - physician, neuroscientist, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego
- Venkatraman Ramakrishnan - structural biologist
- Siva Sivananthan- academic, scientist, businessman and Director of the Microphysics Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago
- Sendhil Ramamurthy - actor
- Ram Shriram - billionaire venture capitalist
- M. Night Shyamalan - film director
- Srikanth Srinivasan - United States circuit judge
- Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah - social anthropologist
- S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan - mathematician
- US Census 2010 See Row# 125
- Vasudha Narayanan, "Tamils" in David Levinson and Melvin Ember, eds. American immigrant cultures: builders of a nation (1997). pp. 874-79
- US Census 2006-2008 American Community Survey See Row# 125
- "ABOUT FETNA". Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- New Jersey Tamil Sangam
- Bay Area Tamil Manram
- "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2012 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
- "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2011 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
- "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2010 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
- Kirk Semple (2013-06-08). "Sri Lankans have gathered on Staten Island,...". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
- "Why Staten Island?". Little Sri Lanka. Retrieved 2015-07-25.
- See "School offers Tamil language classes" Sentinel Sept. 4, 2014 ]
- Vasudha Narayanan, "Tamils" in David Levinson and Melvin Ember, eds. American immigrant cultures: builders of a nation (1997). p. 878.
- Narayanan, "Tamils" p. 877.
- Fuller, C. J. & Haripriya Narasimhan (2014). Tamil Brahmans: The Making of a Middle-Class Caste. University of Chicago Press.
- Narayanan, Vasudha, "Tamils" in David Levinson and Melvin Ember, eds. (1997). American immigrant cultures: builders of a nation. Simon & Schuster Macmillan. pp. 874–79.
- Underwood, Kelsey Clark (1986). Negotiating Tamil Identity in India and the United States. PhD thesis, University of California, Berkeley.
- Underwood, Kelsey Clark. "Image and Identity: Tamil Migration to the United States." Papers Kroeber Anthropological Society (1986): 65+