FAIRFAX, Va. (WDVM) — According to a study by New American Economy, immigrants in Northern Virginia are more likely to contract the coronavirus and are less likely to receive federal aid.
The NAE, in partnership with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and the Community Foundation for Virginia, found “gaps in federal relief packages, language access barriers, and increased risks of infection associated with frontline and essential work.”
In 2018, immigrants made up 27.6 percent of Fairfax County residents. That same year, they made up 60.1 percent of all construction workers, 56.9 percent of essential services workers, 51.2 percent of all transportation and warehousing workers, and 50.2 percent of food service workers.
“They’re in jobs that put them in close proximity to each other, perhaps in close proximity to people that are ill,” said Northern Virginia Regional Commission’s Executive Director Robert Lazaro. “That’s why they seem to be getting more of the disease than other ethnic groups in the region.”
Immigrants are also business owners. They make up 59.3 percent of Fairfax County’s entrepreneurs.
Over 100,000 immigrants living in Northern Virginia had limited English language proficiency. Most of them were Spanish speakers at home. Over 100,000 of them were uninsured in 2018.
“The immigrant community is very important to the economic and social fabric of our region,” Lazaro said. “This highlights the need for more data and more understanding of how folks have been negatively impacted prior to COVID-19 in terms of business opportunities and business development.”
Meanwhile, Lazaro hopes the findings will stimulate two things: “Inform folks about the importance of being a diverse region and… the importance of the federal government to provide aid to our local governments.”