Immigrants have always been an essential part of building our nation. Millions of immigrant workers laid railroads, built cities, mined ore, picked crops and assembled cars. Their labor and ingenuity was often exploited by the robber barons of history, so it’s no surprise that many of the founding members of the great industrial unions that still stand today were themselves recent immigrants to the United States.
Workers and families continue to come to this country seeking a better life. Some politicians demonize immigrants and accuse them of “taking jobs,” especially in times of economic uncertainty. However, recent studies have shown that “[t]here is little evidence that immigration significantly affects the overall employment levels of native-born workers.” It’s probably worth noting that the same folks who blame immigrants for the economic insecurity of the middle class are often the ones trying to deflect attention from their massive tax cuts for the super-rich. Nothing to see here folks – blame that guy.
What’s often overlooked these days is that one of the big job creators these days is … immigrants. Yes, immigrants. Whereas immigrants are only 13.5% of the total U.S. population, they are account for 25 percent of our entrepreneurs. According to a recent study, immigrants are almost twice as likely to start a new business than native-born Americans.
These are not just small neighborhood businesses. Many of them are major companies. In 2016, 40% of Fortune 500 companies had at least one founder who was an immigrant or a child of immigrants. One-half of recent startups valued at $1 billion or more have at least one immigrant founder. The list of these companies includes Kraft, Zumba, Panda Express, eBay, Google, Yahoo and Chobani.
This isn’t new. Some of the most iconic American companies were founded by immigrants. William Colgate who founded the Colgate Company in New York City making soap, starch and candles. Colgate was born in England. His family came to the United States when he was 12 years old. Alexander Graham Bell was born in Scotland in 1847. One of the founders of Google, a company that affects our lives probably as much as toothpaste and the telephone, is an immigrant from Russia. Sergey Brin was born in the Soviet Union.
The hard-work and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants supports innovation and growth in the economy. While some tout trickle down economics as being a job creator, our history is rife with examples of how it doesn’t work. These days, the big job creators are not politicians or major corporations getting tax breaks: many new jobs are coming from entrepreneurs – many of who are recent immigrants – and unions bargaining to bring jobs back.