New research from New American Economy (NAE) released today in partnership with Refugee Council USA and Church World Service Virginia highlights how immigrants are both essential to Shenandoah Valley’s rapid response efforts and especially vulnerable due to gaps in federal relief, barriers to language access, and increased risk of infection associated with frontline and essential work.
Key findings from this report include:
- Immigrants serve in essential industries and carry out vital roles that keep Shenandoah Valley functioning but put them at higher risk of infection. Despite making up just 6.6 percent of the region’s residents in 2018, immigrants comprise more than 28.6 percent of all Food Processing workers and 15.6 percent of all Restaurant and Food Services workers in Shenandoah Valley.
- Immigrants play an important role in Shenandoah Valley as job creators but are concentrated in industries that are especially vulnerable to the economic recession caused by COVID-19. Immigrants make up 14.9 percent of business owners in General Services including personal services like laundry, barber, and repair shops, and 10.5 percent of business owners in the Construction industry.
- Culturally sensitive and language accessible emergency materials are in demand. In 2018, 25 percent of immigrants, or 8,102, living in the Shenandoah Valley had limited English language proficiency. Among them, the top two languages spoken at home other than English were: Spanish (74.1 percent) and Chinese (6.5 percent).
- Access to healthcare and medical services remains critical during this pandemic. Over 31 percent of immigrants, or 10,071 people, living in Shenandoah Valley were without health insurance in 2018.
Refugee Council USA is one of twelve recipients of NAE research to inform culturally sensitive emergency response measures that ensure all residents are included, regardless of immigration status. This customized research report highlights the demographic nuances of the Shenandoah Valley’s immigrant population and will inform the advocacy, development, and implementation of inclusive local emergency responses.
Full press release here.