In Celebration of the Economic Contributions of Immigrants

After many years of experience handling business and family-based immigration, I continue to love helping my clients with their immigration issues. The opportunity to positively impact the lives of so many clients has been an honor. Yet so much work remains to be done. I look forward to assisting you or a beloved family member or valued associate with one or more of today’s immigration challenges.

When I tell people not directly impacted by immigration issues that I handle a lot of business immigration matters, I often get a blank stare or a response such as, “What does business have to do with immigration?” I am hoping that by sending this newsletter to a wide variety of people, I can help to expand an understanding of the immigration issues that don’t usually get reported or explained in the media.

In some of the media you hear that immigrants take jobs from Americans, they don’t pay taxes, and that they are a drain on the economy. I will provide statistics that refute those assertions in a later newsletter. For this newsletter, I would like to share what I have personally experienced – creative, hardworking, innovative people making significant contributions not just to our culture, but also to our economy.

A recent issue of the Atlantic Magazine included an article entitled “Why American Cities Are Fighting to Attract Immigrants.” That article points to research reflecting my own experience, that immigrants are creating businesses and revitalizing the U.S. workforce. The Atlantic references a study by the Kaufman Foundation that more than two-fifths of the start-up tech companies in Silicon Valley have at least one foreign-born founder. The Atlantic article also references University of California (Davis) economist Giovanni Peri, who points out that Immigrants hold a third of the internationally valid patents issued to immigrant U.S. residents.

In Florida, we see the entrepreneurial spirit in our business-creation statistics. “Map the Impact of Immigration Across the Nation” – a project of the Partnership for a New American Economy – provides specific data for Florida: 29.7 percent of Florida business owners are immigrants, with immigrants making up less than 20 percent of the state’s population, and during the period 2006-2010 immigrant-founded new businesses accounted for 36.7 percent of all new businesses.

The American Immigration Council published a report on Feb 3, 2016 – Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Welcoming Cities: Lessons from Chicago, Dayton and Nashville. The first paragraph to this report reads as follows: “In the face of America’s changing demographics, future prosperity depends in part upon the ability of local communities to attract and retain a diverse population with diverse sets of skills. In the native-born population, there are fewer births and more retirements. That demographic fact has been compounded by the decline of large manufacturing companies that metropolitan areas relied upon in the past to grow their populations and economies. Increasingly, cities and regions looking to stem population decline and stimulate economic growth are seeking to attract immigrants and encourage immigrant entrepreneurship. Immigrants play an outsize role in establishing ‘main street’ businesses (retail, accommodation and food services, and neighborhood services), which are important for generating neighborhood-level economic growth and revitalization. This propensity to start businesses that revitalize neighborhoods makes immigrants attractive to city leaders.”

Many foreign businesses open branches in the U.S. strictly for business reasons, and many foreign nationals establish or buy U.S. businesses primarily for immigration advantages. Often a family-based petition is simply the easiest way to come to the U.S. and establish a business. And often the motivation for a family-based petition is simply family re-unification, but results in an economic advantage to the local and national economy. Whatever the motivation, the end result is a vibrant contribution to our economy, as well as our culture.

Linda M Kaplan
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