On Nov. 30th the Washington Examiner published an interesting story about the rise in the level of poverty among school-aged children in the Washington DC-area.

The article covered statistics showing that since 2007, the poverty rate for children between 5 and 17 nearly doubled in Montgomery County, Maryland, (just outside of the District of Columbia), from 5.4 percent to 9.0 percent. Meanwhile, the District’s rate soared from 24.8 percent in 2007 to 30.9 percent in 2010 – making it one of just 73 jurisdictions nationwide to surpass the 30 percent poverty mark for the age group.

Other areas in Northern Virginia also saw increases in poverty rate among school-aged children, but not to the levels seen in Montgomery County and the District of Columbia.

While the recession takes a large portion of the blame for these disturbing results, the fact that this area is a very desirable destination for many illegal aliens should not be ignored. The Sage Policy Group, a Baltimore economic and policy consulting firm which contributed to the study, noted that “Montgomery County is the immigrant’s gateway into Maryland.”

Recent Census Bureau data tells us that of Montgomery County’s 299,000 foreign-born residents in 2009 (30.8% of the population of the county), more than 100,000 said they had arrived after 2000. The county’s foreign-born population was about 66,000 residents higher than in 2000.

Continuing to be a magnet for illegal aliens will not help improve these dire statistics. Recently, District of Columbia mayor Vincent Gray signed an executive order prohibiting police from inquiring about the immigration status of people they arrest or reporting that status to federal authorities. (see blog) And Montgomery County, as mentioned above, is a well-known sanctuary county that houses several offices for the region’s main illegal alien special interest group, Casa De Maryland. Maryland governor Martin O’Malley also signed a state version of the DREAM Act earlier this year, which thanks to an aggressive petition by fairness activists opposing the new law will be put to a state-wide referendum in November 2012.

Fixing the economy and working ourselves out of this recession will go a long way in greatly reducing these poverty levels, and addressing the issue of illegal immigration will also help us address fiscal issues as well as open new jobs for those that are unemployed and underemployed.