Mexican Entrepreneurs Creating Jobs in U.S.13 Mar 2010
The news from south of the border has been getting steadily worse, it seems. Violence is rampant, as drug lords compete for dominance of the highly-lucrative drug trade with the United States. Kidnappings are commonplace, and gruesome assassinations have become a fact of everyday life for the millions of Mexicans caught in the crossfire of rival drug gangs.
For a fortunate few, there is an escape hatch: special visas for treaty traders and investors under the E-1 and E-2 categories. A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor tells the story of some Mexicans who are creating jobs in the United States after fleeing the drug wars in their homeland. (See: Who’s Creating U.S. Jobs? Mexicans.” by Taylor Barnes, Christian Science Monitor, Mar 2, 2010.) According to the Christian Science Monitor, one such businessman was Pierre Gama, who left Mexico City after being kidnapped for the fourth time. Using an L-1 visa, Gama came to the United States by investing $200,000 in a San Antonio catering business, and transferring himself to the U.S. as its new executive.
Gama’s story is not uncommon, the Christian Science Monitor says; the U.S. issued over 1,900 E-1 and E-2 visas to Mexicans and their families in fiscal year 2008. Among the “push factors” fueling this trend: entrepreneurs and their families are often targeted by kidnappers and extortionists in Mexico because they have money. As the article points out, drug-related violence has claimed the lives of about 17,000 in Mexico since Felipe Calderon became president in December 2006.
Another Mexican investor-entrepreneur discussed in the Monitor article decided to emigrate and set up shop in San Antonio after he got tired of dealing with robberies at his Mexican jewelry stores. He has opened three new shops in the San Antonio area in the past two years, the article reports, noting that the city of San Antonio has an international affairs department that encourages Mexican immigrant investors to settle there.
Will importing entrepreneurs be the wave of the future? Will it help us to “grow our way out” of our current economic predicament? Time will tell. Meanwhile, there is increasing talk about investor visas as a worthwhile quid pro quo to attract bright, ambitious, and entrepreneurial-minded foreigners to the United States – along with their investment dollars – using the lure of a green card and the prospect of eventual U.S. citizenship. [See our recent blog posts: EB5 Investor Visas and Green Cars (Feb 17, 2010), Speaking of the EB5 Investor Visa… (Dec 31, 2009), and CNN Money Quotes Murthy in Immigrant Entrepreneurship Article (Dec 30, 2009).]
For some of us, this is hardly a new idea; we always have felt that bringing talented people to the United States means a net gain in national wealth. But if more people are finally coming around to this position – after years of fretting about immigrants and their impact on U.S. jobs – perhaps we can finally make progress toward creating an immigration system that’s worthy of the forward-looking, dynamic economy we wish to have.