On October 24th, Govind Nair, Co-chair of the Northern Virginia Ethical Society (NoVES) Adult Enrichment And Civic Action Committee, gave testimony before the Fairfax County, VA Board of Supervisors. Govind read the following statement, issued by the NoVES Board.
“Our Northern Virginia Ethical Society or NoVES is a humanist community dedicated to ethics, social justice, and education. We celebrate life’s joys, support each other through life’s crises, and work to make the world a better place. To that end our Board has affirmed the resolution that the Fairfax County Government stop its cooperation with ICE officials in the execution of unlawful search and seizures; and detention without due process.
NoVES recognizes that immigration is the mainspring of the economic vitality of Fairfax County as a hub of innovation and growth in Virginia. Fairfax County has one of the highest rates of education, economic growth, and enterprise creation in the country. Our population diversity has created an environment of cultural and social diversity which underpins the vitality of our County as a premier locus of economic dynamism in Virginia and the USA more generally. Thirty-eight percent of our residents aged 5 and older speak a language other than English at home. Thirty percent of our County are foreign-born persons.
At NoVES, we have members, family, neighbors, and friends who represent this rich immigrant heritage. Immigrants play a key role at every level of our culture and society, from the people who provide the food on our tables, those whose services we benefit from in our homes and our community, those who are entrepreneurs, educators, scientists, technologists, and medical and other professionals. All of these individuals contribute in their own ways to the enhancement and enrichment of our county, state, and nation.
We must create in Fairfax County an environment which welcomes the people who bring to us their cultures and traditions from all the nations of the world. Our workplaces, schools, hospitals, and places of worship, leisure and sport, must remain free from hostility toward immigrant populations. An atmosphere of fear, intimidation, arbitrary detention,and xenophobia is not compatible with the ethical basis of the NoVES community, or with the continued economic vitality and social progress of which Fairfax County has been an exemplary model in the USA. To remain an attractive place for our diverse residents, Fairfax County needs to demonstrate a basic humanity and tolerance and to resist tendencies which go in an opposite direction.
At NoVES, we adhere to a tradition of advocating evidence-based economic and social policy, as opposed to policies motivated by prejudice and ill-informed opinion. We recognize the importance of every person, regardless of who they are, where they come from, how they got here, and how they contribute to society. We know there is no evidence of crime being primarily or even substantially linked to our immigrant population nor has employment of immigrants detracted from the continued creation of jobs and businesses.
In fact, all evidence clearly and overwhelmingly points to the dynamic force that immigration brings to our economy. The roughly 40 million immigrants in the USA estimated in 2012, of whom about 46% are naturalized U.S. citizens, is about 13% of the US population but contributed nearly 15% of US economic output. It is also a myth that immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, mainly occupy low-wage occupations. For example, 22% of US dental, nursing, and health aides are immigrants, as are 31% of computer software developers. In other words, immigrants are statistically overrepresented in these and many other higher wage occupations. Contrary to popular myth, undocumented immigrants have also had a net positive value on public budgets through taxes because they contribute more than they take out.
Fairfax County should continue to model a successful approach to economic progress and cultural vitality based on welcoming immigration. We must also strive to become a model of acceptance, justice, and equality for all to fully confirm with US constitutional tradition.
Accordingly, NoVES strongly supports all endeavors to resist fostering a climate of discrimination, distrust and fear in our immigrant communities. We urge the Board of Supervisors to ensure that our County government does not, in any way, aid or abet efforts which serve only to stoke anxiety, fear, and panic among children, mothers, fathers, and hard working immigrants who are a bedrock of our community.
NoVES members will continue to urge our elected representatives to pursue immigration policies based on an ethical, humane, just, and evidence-based approach.”