Category Archives: Immigration

The Registered Nurse Shortage

by James C. Sherlock

I have reported often about the severe and increasing shortages of nurses both in Virginia and nationally.

At some point in nearly everyone’s life, we literally will not be able to live without the help of a nurse, whether for injury or illness or just declining overall health.

We need both the nurses and ourselves to be safe when that happens. We will have to fill the shortages, first by recruitment and retention. Perhaps simultaneously by increased legal immigration of qualified nurses from other countries.

This article will focus first on what RNs were paid in 2021, both in Virginia and nationwide. We will examine it in absolute and in relative terms. Virginia in 2021 was competitive on pay in relative terms. But wages may be insufficient in absolute terms to address the shortages.

Then we will discuss what else needs to be done to recruit, train and retain more nurses. I mentioned in an earlier article that RN instructors in training programs are one of the biggest needs.

The Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics have captured the large increases in registered nurse (RN) pay across the board and the doubling of the pay of travel nurses in 2021. Those pay surges were driven by COVID supply and demand and funded partially by federal emergency money.

You will see that, by what I consider a useful calculation, Virginia RN’s median wage compensation is 18th among the states when adjusted for each state’s cost of living index. Virginia is the top-paying state among adjacent states and the District of Columbia.

Regardless of the reason, it was past time that we paid them more. We need the pay raises to stick. It is the only way over the long run to begin increasing the supply.

I say begin because there are other factors driving nurses away. Safety is a huge factor. Continue reading

Coal in Virginia

From Virginia Coal, An Abridged History.

by James C. Sherlock

When we talk of coal today, which is seldom, it is usually not treated well.

It is easy to forget (if some even know) that coal powered the industrial revolution, made America the richest nation in the world and fueled American war production that supported allied victories in both world wars in the 20th century.

Coal powered nearly everything starting in the early part of the 19th century. Power plants, trains, ships, and virtually anything else powered by steam used coal to boil the water.

The iron and then steel-making process depended then, and still does, on coking coal.

Coal — and the co-dependent railroads — played big roles in Virginia history.

I strongly recommend to you Virginia Coal, An Abridged History. It was published in 1990 by the Virginia Center for Coal & Energy Research at Virginia Tech.

Continue reading

Refugees in Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Happy New Year and welcome to everyone in Virginia granted refugee status by the federal government.

You are the latest part of a tradition of welcoming refugees that predates the republic.

The definition of refugee is:

Any person who is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence, and is unable or unwilling to return to or seek protection of that country due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

That status must be both claimed and granted by the federal government.

Claiming refugee status, as many of the millions swarming over the southern border do, is not the same as being granted that status. Those without criminal records and not automatically eligible because of their countries of origin are allowed to remain until a judge rules on their claim.

Virginia has a high-functioning state agency, the Office of Newcomer Services (ONS) in the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), and a number of private non-profits, who help them settle and get started with the aid of federal funding.

From Oct. 1, 2015 through the end of September 2021, Virginia resettled 12,873 persons with refugee status, a large majority of whom did not come from the Americas.

The three largest sources of persons granted refugee status and re-settled in Virginia over that period were from Afghanistan (8,560), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1,194), and Iraq (823).

The only significant source of those from the Americas was El Salvador (368).

I will update this list as soon as the 2022 numbers are available, but they will include for the first-time refugees from Ukraine, now given special refugee status by the U.S. government. Continue reading

New Census Bureau Numbers and the Southern Border

Joe Biden. Official Photo Why is this man smiling?

by James C. Sherlock

I just received my “Happy New Year 2023” message from the Census Bureau.

“As the nation prepares to ring in the new year, the U.S. Census Bureau today projected the U.S. population will be 334,233,854 on Jan. 1, 2023.

Happy New Year 2023!

This represents an increase of 1,571,393, or 0.47%, from New Year’s Day 2022.”

It may prove useful to compare that to the number of people illegally crossing the southern border in that same period. NBC news reports 2.76 million. But who knows?

But the celebration, certainly any toast, is premature pending the near- and long-term consequences of the madness there.

This represents kind of an “in your face, America” comment from the Biden administration.

We have come to expect that.

Perhaps, in one of his stories, he will refer to himself as the new father of his country.

Afghan Immigrants and Their Children in Virginia – Part 2 – the Afghan Adjustment Act

Courtesy of Virginia Department of Social Services

by James C. Sherlock

When I wrote Part 1 of this series, I promised further investigation into immigration of Afghan allies into Virginia.

The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), a hero in this story, has been entirely forthcoming in answering my inquiries. I will recount in a follow-up post their work so far. But the federal government has much more to do.

As a retired Naval officer, I strongly support the bi-partisan Afghan Adjustment Act (the Act) sitting in committees in the House and Senate. We must do the right thing for allies who fought alongside us.

Neither the House nor the Senate acted upon the bill in 2022.

The VDSS Office of New Americans, funded by the federal government, is doing terrific work, but needs the help that the Act would bring.

VDSS is assisting 5,161 Afghan parolees.

Parole offers only limited, temporary benefits and — unlike refugees and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders — parolees have no clear path to permanent status. Instead, those thousands of parolees live in Virginia uncertain about their options or their future in the United States.

There are 2,123 additional Afghans in the Commonwealth that already have SIV designation.

Only California and Texas host more Afghans who have fled their country since the American withdrawal.

Both SIVs and parolees who qualify as SIVs but await very limited numbers of authorized visas are welcome with our thanks for their service. They can be expected to make major contributions to Virginia.

We owe them the chance to do that. That is why the Act is so necessary. Continue reading

Afghan Immigrants and Their Children in Virginia – Part 1

Courtesy of Virginia Department of Social Services

by James C. Sherlock

The flow of Afghan refugees into Virginia has been at a much higher volume than is generally appreciated.

I have data on Virginia resettlements of Afghanis from 2016 through the middle of 2021, when the total was 8,560.

The current total is far higher as a result of the Kabul airlift. A government survey reports that 41,000 of that group admitted to the U.S. settled in Texas, California and Virginia.

A significant majority of the Afghanis admitted between 2016 and the middle of 2021 have been granted Special Immigrant Visas and are lawful permanent residents.

Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) have been issued to those who took significant risks to support our military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan, were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government or our coalition forces in Afghanistan, or are a family member of someone who did.

I think I speak for all Virginians when I welcome them and thank them for their service.

I have embarked on an effort to understand the numbers and impact of those refugees on our institutions, especially our public schools.

And our impact on them. Continue reading

Sanctuary Sell-Out

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney

by Jon Baliles

If you time warp all the way back to early 2017 (which on some days seems like 30 years ago), then-newly-sworn-in Mayor Levar Stoney issued a directive that Richmond would be a sanctuary city in opposition to then-newly-sworn-in President Trump’s executive orders on immigration (that were later struck down). Many cities across the country issued similar orders/directives.

City of Richmond employees, including police, would not ask anyone about their immigration status or cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in deporting anyone in the country illegally. Stoney said on the day of the announcement, “That is not the country we are. That is not the city we will be.”

The Mayor’s directive said, in part: “in the interest of public safety and protecting communities, will maintain its policy of not inquiring as to the place of birth or immigration status of individuals with whom it comes into contact.”

If you recall the hubbub surrounding this, the directive did not actually use the term “sanctuary city,” and Richmond for years had been not working cooperatively with ICE on immigration matters. The same applied to Henrico and Chesterfield and Hanover — none of the regions’ governments or law enforcement had any such working arrangement. In fact, nationwide in 2017, there were only 38 police departments that had a signed working agreement with ICE, and only one in Virginia (Prince William County).

Why does that matter now, in 2022?

Well, that’s because the directive and sentiment from 2017 was voided by the Mayor when he and the former police chief took credit for stopping the July 4th alleged mass shooting that wasn’t, but which made them both stars for a few days on cable TV news about stopping gun violence. Continue reading

Infographic of the Day: Where Virginia’s Immigrants Come From

Infographic credit: Virginia Public Access Project

One out of eight inhabitants of Virginia was born outside the United States, according to a post about Virginia’s foreign-born population published by the Virginia Public Access Project. The percentage is even higher in two congressional districts (CDs) with highly competitive races this year — 23.1% in CD 10, where Republican Hung Cao, the son of Vietnamese immigrants, is running, and 14.5% in CD 7, where Republican Yesli Vegam, the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, is running.

Statewide, Asia is the largest source of immigrants to Virginia (47%), followed by Latin America (37%). Far fewer come from either Africa (7%) or Europe (8%).

Correction: The original version of this post placed Cao and Vegam in the wrong districts. The error has been corrected.


“This Community Doesn’t Have Excuses”

by James A. Bacon

The Washington Post has a feel-good story about a Northern Virginia trailer park on Rt.1 where residents, mostly from Central America, have pulled together to help one another. They watch after one another’s children and give one another rides. They invite outsiders to come teach them practical things, like how to contest evictions and how to safeguard against COVID-19. They invite policemen to the neighborhood, and they distribute fresh produce to those who need it. They even have their own WhatsApp group they use to communicate.

While the men work, the women have organized themselves in a “network of moms” to keep the community running.

Ana Delia Romero, who is partially blind, provided the spark. After surviving a severe bout of COVID-19, she wanted to get more information about the virus to her neighbors, many of whom spoke indigenous languages, not English or even Spanish. Continue reading

Virginia Needs Better Information Sharing to Provide Mandated Public Services to Illegals Efficiently and Effectively

by James C. Sherlock

I am on record as a persistent advocate of improving the quality of both schools and medical services for poor and minority citizens. It has been the main focus of my work for years.

In a directly related matter, we read, with different reactions depending upon our politics, of the struggles with uncontrolled immigration on border states on the one hand and D.C, New York City and Los Angeles on the other.

We are treated to the public spectacle of the mayors of sanctuary cities deploring massive new influxes of illegal border-crossers and asking for federal assistance. It provides one of the best object lessons in being careful what you ask for in recent public life.

All of that is interesting, but Virginians know that the problem is increasing. They know Virginia can’t fix it, and they want to know how Virginia will deal with it.

By law we owe illegals services. And we need to provide them efficiently and effectively both for humanitarian reasons and to ensure that citizens are not unnecessarily negatively affected.

There is work to do. Continue reading

A Mean-Spirited Amendment

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The 2021 General Assembly passed legislation that made students who fall into the “DACA” category (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), sometimes called the “Dreamers,” eligible for in-state tuition at Virginia institutions of higher education.

To be eligible for in-state tuition regardless of citizenship or immigration status, an applying student must have:

  1. Attended high school in Virginia for at least two years;
  2. Graduated from high school on or after July 1, 2008; and
  3. Filed Virginia income tax returns ( by the student or parents) for at least two years prior to the college application date.

Out of the funding provided for financial aid to students in higher education institutions in the budget bill it adopted, the General Assembly earmarked $5 million each year for DACA students.

Governor Youngkin submitted a budget amendment that “redirected” that funding to financial assistance for students attending Virginia’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Those institutions would be Virginia State in Petersburg and Norfolk State in Norfolk. Continue reading

The Fiscal Challenge of Educating Immigrant Children

by James A. Bacon

Last week Victoria Manning, a member of the Virginia Beach school board, posted a comment on her Facebook page noting that the school system had added 300 additional English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) students the past year, mostly from “South America.” The city’s ESL budget had increased more than $1 million over two years, she wrote. “Continuing to educate South Americans is not sustainable.”

Predictably, her comment drew fire. “When you say and specifically mention Latin Americans, you’re telling me indirectly that you have something against people that are brown or Black or Indian or aboriginal and so on that come from south of the United States border,” said Luis Rivera with the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission. The Virginia Beach Democratic Committee termed the statement “racist.”

Once you call someone a racist, you pretty well shut down the conversation. But there are legitimate issues here. That the ESL program is causing fiscal stress to Virginia Beach schools is undeniable. WAVY-TV reports the numbers here.

Manning elaborated upon her comments to the television station. The city is already short 100 teachers, she said, and now it has to add eight more ESL positions. “If you have a program with an increasing number of students with fewer teachers then the program is unsustainable.” Continue reading

Undocumented Aliens vs. Undocumented Vaccinations

Screen grab from the University of Virginia website: “DACA & Undcoumented Student Resources.”

by Walter Smith

Prior to the fall 2021 semester, the University of Virginia disenrolled 238 students, including 49 who had already registered for classes. What was their offense? Take a guess.

  1. Entering and residing in the country illegally, or
  2. Refusing to get COVID vaccinated in violation of a university policy that has since been overturned.

If you answered (2), you have been paying attention. If you also knew that UVa had declared in June 2020 that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status no longer disqualified an applicant from attending the university, you are really on top of things.

“Our mission as a university is to attract outstanding students who will make our community stronger and the world a better place,” said UVa President Jim Ryan in this June 2020 article. “We should be open to all qualified applicants – and this decision is an important step in the right direction.”

Solicitude to “all” qualified applicants did not extend to those who presented no documentation of vaccinations and boosters. University policy compelled “all students attending in the Spring 2022 semester … to upload proof” — documentation, if you will — “of an approved booster shot to the HealthyHoos patient portal” or face expulsion.  Continue reading

A Naval Officer Prepares to Repel Boarders

Lt. Ron DeSantis

by James C. Sherlock

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced he has put $8 million in his new budget to transport illegal immigrants to other states and D.C.

He listed Delaware and Martha’s Vineyard as potential destinations.

This of course will be Florida’s response to the Biden administration flying 70 planeloads of illegals into the state in the middle of the night.

BTW, do we know if Virginia got any of those flights? We really don’t know how many of these flights from the border, just like the flights from Afghanistan, landed and disgorged their passengers in Virginia.  Therefore we have no idea what the impact is and will be.  We don’t know that because Northam does not want to know or tell us.

Gov. DeSantis did and is speaking up about what he will do about it.

Excuse the schadenfreude, but it will be huge fun seeing dark blue Delaware and Massachusetts put state troopers on their borders to block entry of buses full of illegal immigrants.

I can’t wait.

In Fairfax, Illegal-Alien Rights Trump Citizen Rights

by James A. Bacon

Apparently, protecting illegal aliens from U.S. immigration authorities is more important to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors than safeguarding the transparency of police blotters, which have been a mainstay of local media crime reporting and public information about crime in the community.

The Fairfax County Police Department has stopped publishing its weekly arrest blotter. Immigrant rights and civil liberty groups had been pushing for the change, arguing that the weekly compilations, which includes arrestees’ records and other details, could help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) target immigrants for deportation, reports the Associated Press.

Remarkably, Diane Burkley Alejandro, executive director of ACLU People Power, said she has no evidence that ICE is actually using the blotters to track down immigrants. Rather, she says, the information provides a “road map” that might allow ICE to locate them as it employs new data-mining tools.

Citizens can still obtain the arrest data, but only by filing a Freedom of Information Act request subject to a month-long response time and possible fees. Continue reading