Immigration Reform, Small Business Owners, and Entrepreneurship

By at 7 June, 2013, 9:10 am

by Raymond J. Keating-

Immigration reform would be good news for the economy in a variety of ways. That includes the impact on small business and entrepreneurship.

Consider two recent items regarding immigration reform and the entrepreneurial sector of the economy.

First, Javier Palomarez, president & CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, noted the following in a piece on (“The Pent Up Entrepreneurship That Immigration Reform Would Unleash”): “Immigrant-owned firms generate an estimated $775 billion in annual revenue, $125 billion in payroll and about $100 billion in income. A study conducted by the New American Economy found that over 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or children of immigrants. Leading brands, like Google, Kohls, eBay, Pfizer, and AT&T, were founded by immigrants. Researchers at the Kauffman Foundation released a study late last year showing that from 2006 to 2012, one in four engineering and technology companies started in the U.S. had at least one foreign-born founder — in Silicon Valley it was almost half of new companies… Immigrants are twice as likely to start businesses as native-born Americans, and statistics show that most job growth comes from small businesses.”

Palomarez’s points are spot on, and particularly important to highlight during this period of diminished entrepreneurship.

Second, a poll of small business owner views on immigration reform was released in early April by the Main Street Alliance and American Sustainable Business Council. Several key points:

• “67% of small business owners support a roadmap to citizenship for immigrants currently living and working in the U.S., while 27% oppose it.”

• “61% of small business owners think the immigration process for future immigrant workers should include a roadmap to citizenship, compared to 27% who think it should be a temporary guest worker program with no roadmap to citizenship.”

• “On a statement highlighting the historical role of immigrant business owners and workers in building strong local economies, small business owners agreed 82%-14%.”

• “On a statement about the potential of immigrant economic integration to strengthen the small business customer base, small business owners agreed 71%-25%.”

• “On a statement positing the importance of keeping families together to ensure a productive workforce for small businesses, small business owners agreed 67%-26%.”

Small business owners overwhelmingly recognize the need for comprehensive immigration reform that opens the immigrant door to entrepreneurs, and the high-skilled and low-skilled workers needed by U.S. businesses and consumers, while establishing a path to citizenship for those in the nation illegally but are making contributions to the economy. Immigration is a net plus for the economy, and creating an immigration system that makes sense and works would be a clear economic positive.


Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

Keating has written two new books titled Root of All Evil? A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel, and An Advent for Religious Liberty: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel.

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