West Virginia’s immigrants come from all over the world and while a small share of the populations, they are broadly represented throughout the state’s workforce and economy. Read PDF of report.
But a fuller conversation about immigrants tends to be overshadowed by the controversy in the U.S. around immigration reform. This conversation all too often tends to paint immigrants as a homogenous group. The conversation ought to reflect an informed understanding of this dynamic population, its diverse contributions to the economy and the challenges immigrants face.
This report attempts to have that deeper conversation, reflecting on the history of immigrants in West Virginia, the challenges they have faced, how they’ve become enmeshed in the fabric of the state, and their role in the state today.
Whether we are born here or moved here, we all value that Virginia is a great place to raise a family. Immigrants move to Virginia for many of the same reasons as people born in other areas of the United States — job opportunities, good schools, and thriving communities. And Virginia’s immigrants are critical contributors to the state’s economy and communities, adding new energy and ideas everywhere from struggling mill towns seeking a second wind to the worker-hungry tech corridors. Immigrants in Virginia today are typically well educated, long-time residents of the United States, with many becoming U.S. citizens and raising children of their own.
Expanding access to driver’s licenses to all New Jersey residents, regardless of immigration status, would make the state’s roads safer and its economy stronger. The proposal would also pay for itself by bringing in tens of millions of dollars in recurring revenue for the state’s general fund, according to an NJPP analysis of new data from the New Jersey Office of Revenue and Economic Analysis. This is a win-win for drivers, working families, and the state’s finances.
On any given day and in every corner of the state, immigrants – both documented and undocumented – wake up and set out to work at small, local businesses that they themselves own and operate. This follows a nationwide trend, as immigrants are almost twice as likely to start new businesses than their native-born peers. And while immigrants are more likely to open any kind of business — including large corporations like Tesla, Google, and Pfizer — they are much more likely to own a “Main Street” business than native-born residents. These small businesses, like grocery stores, hair salons and restaurants, generate approximately $1 billion in economic activity every year and are critical to downtowns and local economies across New Jersey with its 565 unique municipalities.