Immigration in Virginia

“The Latinization of the Central Shenandoah Valley” is an article by Laura Zarrugh about the growing Latinx population in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Between 1990 and 2000 the South as a region has had an influx of Latinx immigration. While Virginia has had fewer immigrants than other states such as North Carolina or Georgia, Virginia saw a 104% increase in Latinx immigrants. Something interesting about this is that these immigrants have settled in fairly rural areas. Generally, when immigration is discussed big cities are at the center of the conversation. The author defines “Latinization” as not only demographic changes but also “increasing demands for services, housing, education, new cultural interests (Rochin 1997) and the institutionalization of Spanish use in many areas of life (Castro 1997).” The author talks about 4 main “pulling” factors to Harrisonburg, Virginia. The first is jobs. Unemployment has usually been low in Harrisonburg, and people in the agriculture field have directly recruited immigrants. Harrisonburg has historically had large apple and poultry industries. The poultry industry remains large in the area. These jobs have brought people looking for better job opportunities to Harrisonburg. The next factor is refugee resettlement. The area is considered a good spot for refugee resettlement because of church involvement, jobs that require little English, and a lower cost of living. Other groups have also been resettled to the area recently including Kurds and Turks. The next factor is church involvement. Has previously mentioned several churches sponsor immigrants. Harrisonburg and the surrounding areas have also created new ministries for the Latinx community that help with religious and other needs. The last factor that the author talks about is social networks. Once people settle in an area they often tell others to join them. This is often referred to as chain migration. The paper concludes with some policy ideas including taking into consideration the diversity of the Latinx community and their needs.
I thought that this was really interesting I did not know that the South in general, and Virginia were experiencing this influx of Latinx immigration. Normally when I hear about Latinx and Hispanic immigration it is in the context of the West and the states that share a border with Mexico. This is really important in the context of education because English language learners are a population that is growing in public schools. In almost every education class that I have taken, we have focused in one way or another on how to best serve these students and different strategies that we can use to help them.

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