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Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post

Regarding Central America Immigration Issue


by Michael Maxey


I sent a letter to the editor of the Washington Post regarding their article on Central America emigration to the US dated July 16, 2013.  


To the editor of the Washington Post:


"Great article on Central American Emigration in today's Washington Post.  One issue that could become a significant "push factor" spurring more immigration to the US is an ongoing coffee plant disease ("Coffee Rust") that threatens the livelihoods of 1.4 million people there.  According to one study (USAID FEWSNet March 2013 Report) a significant number of Central Americans are at risk of a fifty percent reduction in income.  In the past, these types of economic shocks have resulted in greater out-migration to the US. 


Increased emigration could have an impact on US communities with relatively large Central American populations since historical data indicates that immigrants find refuge in communities where they have family and hometown connections.  The Washington DC metropolitan area has a large and growing Central American community (US Census 2010 data shows 500,000 Central American origin residents in DC metro area - second largest in the US) and the most recent Fairfax County Public School System Demographics Report shows a 46% increase in Hispanic origin students since 2006 (see attached graphic).  The extra cost of this increase comes to approximately $165 million (based on Hispanic student increase from 26,761 in 2006 to 39,263 in 2011 with 12,502 additional students multiplied by the 2011 per student cost of $12,597).  


It is important to the Washington DC metro area and communities in the US with large Central American populations to support activities aimed at addressing social and economic issues in Central America.  If we can help address "push factors" for out migration to the US, we can prevent increased costs and burdens here at home.  Our immigration reform approach should be comprehensive, more border security but also more effective foreign assistance."


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