Cultural Revolutions

Old Dominion, R.I.P.

In the last 38 years, Virginia has evolved from being the “Mother of Presidents” to the “Mother of Foreigners.”  That is the upshot of the latest hodgepodge of data from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center.  Now, without reading the study, most anyone could probably conclude that the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., are home to the most foreigners.  But few would suspect that Harrisonburg, Virginia, deep in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, is number two on the center’s list.

How far the Old Dominion has come since 1970, when just one percent of the population was foreign born!  Now, says Weldon Cooper’s Qian Cai, a native of Nanchang, China, it’s 10 percent—most of them Asian and Hispanic (40 and 36 percent).  Foreign-born noncitizens are six percent of the population.  Of Hispanic immigrants statewide, the population has more than tripled since 1990, from 152,000 to 460,000; nearly 90 percent landed here in the last 15 years, 44 percent in the last five.  Twenty percent of Northern Virginia’s residents were born abroad, many of them Hispanics, with Harrisonburg next at nine percent.  Hispanics are now 13 percent of Harrisonburg’s population.

Across the commonwealth, 43 percent of Hispanic immigrants over age 25 did not finish high school.  More than 69 percent of recent Hispanic...

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