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Fairfax County: A Case of Hyperimmigration Crippling a Great School System


Fairfax County, Va., is noted for having one of the finest public school systems in the nation. The foreign language programs, extracurricular programs, and experiences students have in the classroom are first-rate and (sadly) go far beyond what most other students in this nation can expect to have. However, all of that may be about to change.

The school system is facing a $140 million budget shortfall and the new superintendent is looking at a number of options, namely increasing class sizes, cutting and furloughing staff, and eliminating foreign language instruction in elementary schools.

For those who know Fairfax County, it’s not hard to ask: how did it get to this?

Looking at U.S. Census Bureau data from 2012 is a great place to start. Last year, about 1,118,602 lived in Fairfax County. Of those, 333,878 were foreign born. That’s nearly 30%. (The national average is 13%.)

What's more, the foreign-born population of Fairfax County has more than DOUBLED since 2009. In just three years, the county went from having a percentage of its foreign-born population comparable to the rest of the nation to one that's 2-1/2 times the national average!

It's this sort of rapid and uncontrolled immigration that impacts local communities that NumbersUSA is trying to slow down.

Why has immigration had such a massive impact on Fairfax County's schools?

According to the Washington Post:

Enrollment has increased by 15,000 students since 2008, outpacing school funding from the county, schools administrators said. At the same time, populations of students taking classes for English as a second language and those who qualify for free and reduced-price meals -- a measure of poverty -- have climbed dramatically.

-- "Fairfax schools chief to propose deep cuts", Washington Post, October, 20, 2013

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 20% of all immigrants live at or below the poverty line, and if they've been in the U.S. for less than four years, that percentage jumps to 33.3%.

On top of that, immigrant households are likely to bring in about 20% less in wages than native-born households. This results in a smaller tax-base and makes it harder for the county to provide essential services.

Is out-of control immigration the only reason Fairfax County is having to make tough decisions? No. But it has definitely changed the fiscal face of the community and forced the county into either raising taxes or cutting educational programs.

School board Chairman Ilryong Moon said that the prospect of such significant cuts would threaten the school system’s very foundation: “We won't be Fairfax anymore.”

With the onslaught of hyperimmigration Fairfax County has seen, perhaps Fairfax hasn’t been Fairfax in quite some time.

JOE JENKINS is a Writer/Researcher for NumbersUSA

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