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Blog: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Would Build Stronger Communities

Jul 17, 2012 | By Eric Gibble

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

The inscription on the State of Liberty reflects the American tradition of welcoming the immigrant. Throughout our history, we have assured the American Dream can be attained by anyone willing to work hard and contribute to the common good.

However, our current immigration system is not a working one. Years-, sometimes decades-long waits in our current immigration system delay opportunities for immigrants to provide priceless innovations to our society.  Dr. Adriana Kugler, Chief Economist for the Department of Labor, released a report last month detailing how immigrants build stronger communities, one neighborhood at a time. Some of the highlights cited included how immigrants strengthen our country in various areas.

Immigrants promote American business.

  • Immigrants are nearly 30% more likely to start a business.
  • Immigrants represent 16.7% of all new business owners.
  • Immigrants started 25% of the U.S. public venture- backed companies between 1990 and 2005.

Immigrants promote jobs for all Americans.

  • Generally, evidence for the U.S. finds that immigrants tend to generate little displacement of domestic workers. This is because they tend to choose different occupations and have different skills.
  • Domestic workers benefit overall from immigration. The rise in immigration between 1990 and 2004 increased the earnings of those with more than a high school degree by 0.7% by 2004 and is expected to increase them by 1.8% over the longer term.
  • These companies directly employ an estimated 220,000 people inside the U.S. across many different sectors.
  • 40% of U.S. publicly traded venture-backed companies operated in high tech manufacturing (including Intel, Google, Yahoo, and eBay) were started by immigrants and they hire more than half of workers in this sector.

Immigrants are an important component in essential sectors of our economy.

  • While immigrants represent 15% of the population, immigrants represent 24% of U.S. scientists and 47% of U.S. engineers with bachelor or doctoral degrees.


Immigrants promote the common good by addressing our debt.

  • According to the CBO, the fiscal impact of immigrants as a whole is positive as the tax revenues generated by immigrants exceed the cost of the government services they use.
  • The IRS estimates that about 60% of undocumented immigrants pay taxes and that between 1996-2003 they paid almost $50 billion in federal taxes, including payroll and social security taxes.
  • The CBO also estimates that spending by states for undocumented immigrants accounted for less than 5% of total state and local spending for education, healthcare and law enforcement.

You can view the complete report with charts and additional information here.