Yet Another Study Finds Immigrant Entrepreneurs are an Economic Boon to the U.S.

While running for office, President Trump campaigned, in part, on his ability to run the country “like a business.” It seems incongruous, then, that a president with such a self-professed flair for business acumen would retain a deep-seated distrust of immigrants as a fundamental element of his/her presidency. After all, study after study has demonstrated that immigrants keep the U.S. economy humming.

A recent study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonprofit economic research organization, found that immigrant entrepreneurs generate trillions in revenue economy every year, and are consistently willing to take risks and innovate across an array of industries. The study, entitled Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Innovation in the U.S. High-Tech Center, utilized the results of the American Community Survey and the Survey of Small Business Owners, two components of the U.S. Census Bureau. It confirms that immigrants comprise a whooping 28 percent of small business owners in the United States, and are twice as likely to start a business as native-born Americans. [See The $4.8 Trillion Immigration Issue That is Being Overlooked by Washington by Lori Ioannou, CNBC, 13.Feb.2019.]

One of the most interesting takeaways from the study is that immigrant interest in entrepreneurship transcends several socio-economic barriers. “This phenomenon is across all ethnicities and education levels,” explained Dr. William Kerr, a professor of entrepreneurship at Harvard University, in a recent interview with CNBC. “There are many reasons immigrants start more businesses. Among them: they tend to be more daring and less risk averse, considering they were brave enough to migrate here and tolerate change. Many come to the U.S. specifically to start a business. Others face discrimination in the job market and opt to become business owners.” And while the economic impact of small, Main Street style businesses owned by immigrants can buoy entire communities, large scale tech startups helmed by immigrants in Silicon Valley are pumping billions into our nation’s coffers. Per a joint letter addressed to President Trump last year from various tech sector organizations, more than half of startups in the U.S. valued at $1 billion or more had immigrant founders or co-founders. [See New U.S. Census Data Shows That Immigrant Owned Tech Firms Are More Innovative, by Aarthi Swaminathan, Yahoo, 20.Feb.2019.]

While President Trump continues to pay lip service to immigrant entrepreneurs, his actions speak to a more malevolent intent. Case-in-point, the President’s current efforts to dismantle the H-4 EAD program, which allows many spouses of H1B workers to obtain employment authorization. Many of these H-4 spouses (primarily women) have demonstrated their entrepreneurial spirit by starting their own businesses. What possible benefit could the U.S. economy gain by putting these companies out of business? It would certainly appear that Trump’s support of strong business leadership only applies to native-born Americans, and not the countless immigrants whose entrepreneurial skills create jobs and boost our economy every day.


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