Entrepreneurship and innovation create the lifeblood of the United States. In an era of late-stage capitalism, we must rely upon advanced, unique ways of survival. Immigrants bring with them new perspectives, community-centric support systems, positive work ethic motivated by citizenship and hope, and the tools to interface with a global economy. From field workers to fiber optic technicians, sanitation workers to cybersecurity experts, immigrants contribute skills necessary to cope with the exceedingly fast rate of change in technology and the day-to-day tasks that keep our country running.
Immigrant Entrepreneurship Provides Economic Stability
Facts about immigrants support the idea that they have a greater propensity for entrepreneurship. Immigrants found 25% of all new businesses in the United States. This rate is even higher among refugee immigrants, whose experiences position them to start anew, drive towards financial stability, and put down roots and contribute economically.
Additionally, immigrants have the advantage of being cultivated in a different school system, which often contributes to more adaptive thinking. Combine that with the United States’ cultural obsession with being self-made, and an immigrant who gets a chance can really thrive as an entrepreneur.
Immigrants Provide Technological Advancements
Historically, immigrants have provided significant contributions to technological advancements that have driven the American economy. In the 19th and 20th centuries, immigrants contributed heavily to advancements in electricity and chemicals, in particular.
Currently, impactful contributors include technologists, engineers and developers helping us transition from the information age to the experience age. Of startups valued at over a billion dollars, half of them were founded or co-founded by immigrants. These companies include Google, Facebook, eBay, and Qualcomm. With those innovations come jobs — over 700 per business, on average.
As we value an experienced-based world, immigrants also fill a specific need for multilingual customer service and accommodation of multilingual and international customers. Multilingual employees are also desirable, with a predicted 29% employment opportunity increase in dependant fields through 2024. Clearly, bilingual and trilingual immigrants (as well as their children, who are more likely to know multiple languages) can benefit our workforce in productive and profitable ways.
Countering the Narrative of “Immigrants Steal American Jobs”
A dangerous and historically fascist political narrative popularized by the Trump administration implies that immigrants steal American jobs. Studies show that in both developed and developing nations, immigrants contribute positively to growth.
As we analyze American history and the building of our nation, we find a problematic past: native populations and cultures destroyed and marginalized, a history of slavery still contributing to inequality today, indentured servitude and immigrants relocating to escape religious and cultural persecution in other nations.
Despite the unethical means of the foundation of our country, immigrants have contributed heartily to its growth and success. That hasn’t changed, but conservative rhetoric has.
During his campaign, Trump said, “They’re taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.” In fact, immigrants tend to fill the jobs Americans don’t want and can help replenish a population choosing not to reproduce due to issues like the rising cost of healthcare, low wages, and the environment. As baby boomers age, our healthcare system also requires more workers to care for them. There’s a shortage, and immigrants can fill those roles — and want to.
Immigration in a Volatile Time
While the United States still offers ample opportunities for immigrants, socially and politically, it’s become a very difficult time in history for immigrants. Since Trump’s election, the rise of hate groups has increased by 30%. Although we need immigrants to cultivate new ideas, this isn’t the most immigrant-friendly time.
Immigrants face opposition, threat and racism or religious-based prejudice. While all business owners should invest in business insurance, it’s particularly important for immigrant entrepreneurs to protect themselves legally and via the proper coverage.
In addition to the pressures of running a modern business, immigrant entrepreneurs are faced with the reality of uprooting themselves and moving to an entirely new culture and environment. Some immigrants come from cultures that (justifiably) fear what they know or think about the United States, based upon our politics, media, and loose gun control policies.
Entrepreneurship is a mooring among this chaos for many immigrants. They have their own self-reliant means, their own business location and in many cases, a legacy for their families or a way to provide educational resources for their children.
Whether an immigrant’s interested in starting a co-op or becoming a founder of the next big tech firm, it’s clear that there should be a place for immigrant entrepreneurs in our society.
As a country, we can do better. As individual communities, we can be mindful of the hardships immigrant entrepreneurs face and do our best to support them socially and by purchasing services and products from them.