Along with our partners, ACLU-WV launched a social media campaign today that will tell the powerful stories of immigrants living in our state.
“Many Roads Home” will feature the lived experiences of immigrants in their own words.
“West Virginia has one of the smallest immigrant populations in the country, and when asked, a lot of West Virginians will tell you they don’t know any immigrants,” said Jackie Lozano, coalition coordinator. “We want to change that. This campaign will focus on humanizing immigrants who call the Mountain State home.”
The campaign will tell the stories of all immigrants, from economic migrants to refugees, from undocumented persons to naturalized citizens. Business owners, medical professionals, faith leaders, and even a lawmaker have already sat down for interviews. Their stories will be released over the coming weeks on Facebook and Instagram.
Also at the press conference, our partners at the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy launched their groundbreaking report: The State of West Virginia’s Immigrants. Key findings include:
• Immigrants account for less than 2 percent of West Virginia’s population, but growth in the state’s immigrant population has helped slow the state’s population loss.
• About 53 percent of West Virginia’s immigrants are naturalized citizens, while the rest are temporary and permanent legal residents, recently arrived refugees and undocumented immigrants.
• West Virginia’s immigrants come from around the world, and are more diverse the national immigrant population.
• West Virginia’s immigrants are on average, older than U.S. born West Virginians. This appears to be due to a number of factors, including that most immigrants are of prime-working age who come to the U.S. to work, and the children of immigrants are often U.S. born, skewing the average age of immigrants.
• Immigrants’ share in the labor force, small business ownership and economic output all slightly exceed their representation in the population.
• More than half of West Virginia’s immigrants work in white-collar and healthcare related occupations.
• Among low income immigrants, many struggle and are often excluded from public support.
• Immigrants are more likely to have a college education than native born West Virginians.
• Poverty rates are slightly higher for immigrants than native born West Virginians.
• Citizenship status is a major factor to immigrants’ economic security.
Other partners in the Many Roads Home campaign include American Friends Service Committee, Call to Action for Racial Equality, Catholic Charities WV, WV FREE, West Virginia Council of Churches, West Virginia Interfaith Refugees Ministry, National Association of Social Workers West Virginia Chapter, and the Islamic Association of West Virginia.