Coronavirus crisis amplified in Northern Va.’s immigrant communities

The coronavirus pandemic has had significant impacts on the D.C. region, including Northern Virginia’s immigrant communities.

A group of representatives from local governments, nonprofit and faith-based communities across the City of Alexandria and Arlington and Fairfax counties came together Wednesday afternoon for a virtual discussion about the unique challenges faced by immigrants amid the crisis.

“This is unprecedented. We’re all walking through it for the first time,” said Stacey Picard, assistant social services director at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church.

She said there’s a great need for food among people the center serves.

“We’ve seen those numbers climb significantly each week, climbing 25% until we topped just over 400,” Picard said, about the numbers as of last week.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated sectors of the economy dominated by immigrant labor: Restaurants, hotels, office cleaning services, in-home child care and hair and nail salons, among others, have seen businesses shuttered as nonessential.

Despite the trend of phased reopenings, people are still hurting.

“We’re looking at rent to food to legal services and distributing PPE (personal protective equipment) to out to the community,” said Kate Garvey, director of the Alexandria’s Community and Human Services Department.

She said the effort to help immigrants would be tougher without nonprofits and faith leaders committed to help.

Picard and Garvey took part in a virtual panel hosted by Liberty’s Promise, which supports young immigrants in need while encouraging them to be active and conscientious American citizens.

You can watch a recording of the discussion below:

The organization held a similar virtual panel discussion centered on Maryland in May:

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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