Local Panel Asks for Immigration Help From Congress
From a news release: The Northern Virginia Regional Commission, representing 14 local governments, has written a letter to members of Congress appealing for "assistance in mobilizing a more effective execution of federal government responsibilities associated with the burgeoning immigration affecting our area."
The Northern Virginia region - encompassing the City of Alexandria; the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William; and the towns and cities within the borders of those counties - has become home for thousands of new residents from an enormously diverse array of countries and cultures. One in three persons living inside the Beltway today is foreign born and 40% of the population growth in the region over the past three decades has come from increases in foreign born.
"International diversity is a tremendous economic asset, and a source of competitive advantage for the region," said Barbara A. Favola, a member of the Arlington County Board and Chairman of NVRC. "Many sectors of our economy are dependent on immigrant workers. These individuals fill jobs that would otherwise go unfilled in the service industry, construction area and health care fields, among others. Although the economic advantages an immigrant population brings to a community outweigh the social costs associated with integrating these new faces into the mainstream, there are still challenges."
The letter outlines some of the challenges: neighborhood issues associated with spontaneous, largely unregulated, day labor gathering sites, and pressures for affordable housing, health care and social services. "It is imperative that local governments serve the immigrant populations within our borders to ensure that families and children are not vulnerable to homelessness and crime," Favola said.
The Commission noted that Congress is considering reforming immigration laws that will hopefully improve the federal response to this complex issue, including rectifying inconsistencies in federal policy. "We do not, however, support legislative or regulatory rulemaking that increases the obligations of local governments in these matters: we do not seek and would not accept delegated powers for enforcing federal immigration law. Those are and should remain federal responsibilities," Favola said.
The NVRC leads coordination efforts of its 14 local government members in developing approaches to issues that cross county, town and city boundaries. Those members are: the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park; the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, Purcellville and Vienna. Current issues being discussed are strategies to improve the supply of affordable housing, gang prevention strategies, the BRAC commission's recommendations for base closings in the area and coordinating preparations for regional response to emergencies.
For more information about the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, visit its web site: www.novaregion.org or call 703-642-0700.
By Steve Fehr |
October 28, 2005; 7:43 PM ET
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