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Immigrants & Economic Opportunity

5 June 2009 No Comment

America:  Opportunity for Immigrants -  Immigrants:  Opportunity for America

America: Opportunity for Immigrants - Immigrants: Opportunity for America

Historically, America has proudly proclaimed its rich heritage as a nation grounded in the entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants. Today, America continues to find strength in this heritage, in the strong family values brought by immigrants, and in the human and economic resources contributed by immigrants. As in every corner of life, there are fear-mongers who cry that the sky will fall if…., attempting to sway the populace to their opinion by inciting fear. When focused on immigration policy, their dire warnings include threatening distortions of the economic consequences if immigration continues unabated. Their rants attempt to appeal to Americans in their homes and pocketbooks- shouting, “Immigrants are stealing jobs that should go to Americans!”

Yet the reality is that immigrants are GOOD for America. America was built on the hard work of immigrants, and America will continue to sustain on the hard work of immigrants. America needs immigrants. And contrary to what the fear-mongers would have you believe, most Americans value immigrants. The vast majority of Americans have parents or grandparents or great-grandparents who were born in “the old country.”

Statistics compiled by government entities such as the Small Business Administration and the US Census Bureau, as well as research conducted by think tanks such as the Immigration Policy Center in Washington D.C., and immigration advocacy groups such as the National Immigration Forum, bear out this truth: Immigrants are integral to the success and future of the American economy.

Here are some facts about immigrants in the United States of America:

Who are the Immigrants to the USA?

· 1.5 million skilled and unskilled immigrants work in the United States each year.

· More than 70 percent of immigrants are over the age of 18 when they arrive in the United States.

· Most immigrants arrive in the United States in the prime of their working years.

· Immigrants are more likely to be self-employed than non-immigrants- evidence of a strong entrepreneurial spirit consistent with the opportunity in America.

· In 2008, a total of 1,107,126 persons became Legal Permanent Residents of the United States.

· In 2008, 10 countries accounted for 53 percent of all new legal permanent residents: Seventeen percent of all persons becoming legal Permanent Residents in the United States were born in Mexico. China was the second leading country of origin, contributing 7.3 percent of the new legal permanent residents, followed by India (5.7 percent), the Philippines (4.9 percent), Cuba (4.5 percent), the Dominican Republic (2.9 percent), Vietnam (2.8 percent), Colombia (2.7 percent), Korea (2.4 percent), and Haiti (2.3 percent). These 10 countries accounted for 53 percent of all new LPRs in 2008.

· The average education of new immigrants has increased with each generation of immigrants.

· In the workplace, a larger percentage of immigrants hold bachelor’s or postgraduate degrees than do native-born American workers.

· Despite stereotypes, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, within 10 years of arrival, more than 75 percent of immigrants speak English well.

· Half of all Silicon valley engineers are from other countries.

· Skilled medical professionals from other countries fill what would otherwise be gaps in medical capacity in the USA.

· Less than three percent of immigrants receive food stamps.

How do Immigrants engage in business opportunity and contribute to the U.S. economy?

· According to the US Small Business Administration, about 81,000 immigrants start businesses each month.

· 16.7 percent of all new business owners in the United States are immigrants.

· Immigrants are 30% more likely than non-immigrants to start a new business each month.

· Immigrants own 11.2 percent of U.S. businesses with $100,000 or more in sales

· Immigrants own 10.8 percent of all U.S. businesses with employees.

· According to the New York City based think tank, “Center for an Urban Future,” immigrants are starting a greater share of new businesses than native-born Americans.

· Over the past 15 years, immigrants founded one of every four companies that received venture capital.

· From 1995 to 2005, immigrants were the chief executives or chief technologists at one of every four new technology and engineering companies in America . In 2006, these immigrant-founded companies employed 450,000 U.S. workers.

· Hundreds of thousands of American citizens are employed by: Yahoo, Google, Sun MicroSystems, Qualcomm and E-bay- all companies founded by immigrants. These companies have generated billions of dollars in revenue annually.

What is the Prognosis for Immigration to the USA in the future?

· Demographics in the United States are shifting. According to data extrapolated by the Census of 2000, minorities grew at 12 times the growth rate of whites. According to Census projections, by the year 2050 racial and ethnic minorities will outnumber non-Hispanic whites. American law is formed by consensus of the people. Accordingly, this demographic shift will impact all areas of business and political decision-making.

· Current economic difficulties in the United States (and in the world) notwithstanding, the U.S. government has forecast a shortage of 20 million workers by the year 2026 as a result of the retirement of the baby boomer generation. An easy solution to this problem is an easing of US immigration laws in order to meet the labor demand.

· Alan Greenspan addressed the economic impact of the shrinking U.S. labor supply, stating, “There will effectively be a limit to new hiring, unless US immigration is uncapped.”

· Failure to address our shrinking labor resources will slow down the economy, impacting the prosperity of all Americans. The obvious solution to the problem of an aging American workforce is to increase opportunities for immigration. Increased opportunities for immigration will yield new small businesses that employ Americans and investment in existing American businesses that employ Americans.

· The win-win potential for foreigners who want to immigrate to the United States and local businesses and economies in the USA has only just begun to be tapped. Savvy states such as Vermont, and numerous US businesses of varying sizes, are actively seeking foreigners who would like to receive an automatic green card for residence in the United States in exchange for investment in local companies. The United States wins jobs and a bolstered economy; foreigners win the opportunity to pursue their dreams in America- land of opportunity.

Whether ignorant fear-mongers (read: bigots) like it or not, increased immigration is where we are heading. And it is right and good: Not only was our great nation founded by immigrants, but our national heart and soul resides with immigrants: We derive pride and a national joy from our diversity. To a large degree, the sense of plenty in America is tied to the plenty we have of immigrants. And in our newly globally interdependent world economy, the “plenty” of cultural diversity in our homeland is the foundation of our strength.

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