There’s no question that illegal immigrants tax our economy and deplete our government benefits, so they should be carefully vetted. We need to separate unskilled immigrants from those who come here legally on worker visas and possess the skills we need to grow our economy.

This point was driven home by Adrian Furnham, writing for The Wall Street Journal, who revealed that since 1998, the number of immigrants who became entrepreneurs has nearly tripled. In 2016, 29.5 percent of American entrepreneurs were immigrants.

This prompted Inc. magazine to headline an article entitled: “The Most Entrepreneurial Group in America Wasn't Born in America.”

This really isn’t that surprising, considering our history of successful immigrant entrepreneurs. In fact, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy in 2016, 40.2 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants, and had at least one founder who either immigrated to the United States or was the child of immigrants. The children of immigrants started another 114 companies.

According to Furnham, “Immigrants must figure out how to deal with, and overcome, frustration, loneliness and a steep learning curve. And that’s why immigrants make such great entrepreneurs—they’re once again out-siders facing many of the same kinds of obstacles.”

Immigrants now start more than a quarter of new businesses in this country.

In essence, Furnham suggests that all entrepreneurs experience failure and rejection, but outsiders are often better prepared to not be devastated by hard times, because they have already faced harder times than most people can imagine.”

Take the case of Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin, co-founder of Google, who was born in Moscow to Jewish parents Michael Brin and Eugenia Brin. His father was a mathematics professor and his mother a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. His family migrated in 1979 to the U.S when he was six as it was very difficult for Jews in Moscow to pursue higher education and follow the profession of their choice.

Brin, along with Google co-founder Larry Page, was named among the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35 by the MIT Technology Review TR100.

Today he is worth US$45 billion and he is the 12th richest person in the world.

Can you imagine if we kept Brin and his parents from emigrating to the U.S.?

The U.S. immigration system is broken, so we should be encouraged that President Donald Trump's support for merit-based immigration systems, like those used in Canada and Australia, could make it easier for immigrants with advanced education and skill sets to enter the U.S. Trump praised those systems for adhering to "a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially."

One way immigrant entrepreneurs support themselves, according to Furnham, is that since they don’t have the array of local networks that natives do, they often can substitute the broader American network with co-nationals that can support them with loans and discounts on products and services, as well as insights about local practices and people.

In The Spotlight

Inc. notes that from 1996 to 2011, the business startup rate of immigrants increased by more than 50 percent, while the native-born startup rate declined by 10 percent, to a 30-year low. Immigrants today are more than twice as likely to start a business as native-born citizens.

“Despite accounting for only about 13 percent of the population, immigrants now start more than a quarter of new businesses in this country. Fast-growing ones, too — more than 20 percent of the 2014 Inc. 500 CEOs are immigrants. Immigrant-owned businesses pay an estimated $126 billion in wages per year, employing 1 in 10 Americans who work for private companies. In 2010, immigrant-owned businesses generated more than $775 billion in sales.”

There’s a clear lesson here that we cannot simply dismiss all immigrants because they have been tainted by the ongoing debate about our 20 million illegal immigrants. We must commit to a better system of identifying immigrants who demonstrate the skills America needs to fuel its entrepreneurial growth – the nation’s job creators.

As Inc. notes: “Driven by the politics of short election cycles, the U.S. is missing the larger economic cycle of immigration. Meanwhile, Canada has been advertising its new startup visa with a billboard on California's Highway 101, where every foreign-born engineer in Silicon Valley can see it: "H-1B Problems? Pivot to Canada." America has set up a legal thicket of "Keep Out" signs--which is both tragic and suicidal.”

Let’s take those signs down and show immigrants that America is open for business. Trump’s merit-based immigration system is a good first step. We need more people who recognize what their forbearers knew: there’s nothing more sacred than getting a piece of the American Dream.


Neal Asbury
About The Author Neal Asbury [Full Bio]
Neal Asbury, chief executive of The Legacy Companies, has published over 200 articles on global trade issues, writes for Newsmax, and is the author of Conscientious Equity. He frequently appears on cable news programs and hosts the nationally syndicated talk radio show Made In America.

Neal Asbury's Made In America

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