By Bob Leggett:
Immigrants in northern Virginia now account for over 27% of the population and contribute almost $60 billion to the local economy, according to a new government report.
The report finds that immigrants in our region are well educated and make up over 40% of all entrepreneurs in the region. In addition, over 50% have earned their U.S. citizenship – a higher rate than the national average.
Three out of 10 Northern Virginia residents are immigrants, making the area one of the most diverse places in America. According to the report, immigrants are an “indispensable part of the Northern Virginia economy at all levels as workers, business owners, taxpayers, and consumers.”
The report, One Region: Welcoming New Americans to Northern Virginia, was published on 12 March by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, consisting of 13-member local governments in Northern Virginia. (Download the report here.)
However, the picture is mixed for immigrants, as many of them also are affected by the growing level of income inequality highlighted in a second recent government report. According to Needs Assessment 2019, published by Fairfax County Health and Human Services, the rate of income inequality increase 2015-2018 in Fairfax County was 2.4%, four times the national average of 0.6%. (Download the report here.)
Hunter Mill District Sup. Walter Alcorn recently met with The Blue View to discuss these findings.
He noted that the Fairfax County poverty level (6.2%) is below the Virginia overall rate (10.7%) and the national level (11.8%), but still termed it too high. He added that 10 % of Fairfax County residents have no health coverage.
Alcorn said he is committed to finding ways to ensure that immigrants are welcomed and integrated into the life of the nation, and of Fairfax County. On a national level, he is calling for more discussion of wealth distribution throughout the country “on the progressive side” and for “creative solutions in providing more new and refurbished affordable housing.”
Here at home, Alcorn said he supports measures to ensure the well-being of immigrants as well as the safety of all residents. He pointed out these examples:
- Our educational system must adapt so all students get a good education.
- Our transportation system should provide options, including a viable bus system, for those who do not own cars. The Connector bus system, for instance, should be re-aligned so that it can be used for intra-county travel as well as for metro stops.
- Programs to improve pedestrian safety need to be put in place. A recent article in the Washington Post reported that there have been eight pedestrian fatalities in Fairfax County in the first two months of 2020.
Photo: Northern Virginia regional Commission website
Bob Leggett is a former intelligence analyst and military veteran with a doctorate in economics from Lehigh University. He is a member of Hunter Mill District Democratic Committee.
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