The Trump administration’s hardline stance on enforcing immigration laws–and resulting family issues and human rights problems–have been topping national news since the president set foot in the Oval Office. It’s a contentious and complicated issue, but according to a group called New American Economy, immigrants bolster the U.S. economy in several important ways:
Nationally, immigrants earned $ 1.3 trillion in 2014 and contributed $ 105 billion in state and local taxes and almost $ 224 billion in federal taxes. This left them with nearly $ 927 billion in spending power, which they frequently used to purchase goods and services, stimulate local business activity, and create jobs in the broader U.S. economy.
The group also says foreign-born citizens own 18 percent of businesses in the United States.
One such foreign-born business owner says immigrants also bring intangible benefits to the companies they work for. Consider the perspective of Dr. Ximena Hartsock, Chilean-born founder and president of Washington, D.C.-based Phone2Action, a startup that enables citizens to connect with policymakers via email, Twitter and Facebook using their mobile phones. Here are her words on why she wants immigrants working for her.
1. Immigrants are survivors.
Immigrants are resourceful because we are constantly in survival mode and human beings do our best in survival mode. When people immigrate to another country (or even to another state) they are removed from their networks, possessions and circles of influence. The sense of security that comes from living in your country of origin is replaced by uncertainty. In this new context, we immigrants are forced to operate with fewer resources and to develop a high sense of alert and awareness, just like any survivor.
2. Immigrants are grateful.
Often immigrant employees have visas sponsored by their employers and are grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to be working in the United States. You often hear people say immigrants put their “heads down and work hard” because they want to return the opportunity they are given to be in the U.S. with hard work.
3. Immigrants are great for culture and foster a new sense of learning and innovation.
In my experience, immigrants tend to be collaborative and are excited to share parts of their own culture with their coworkers. Immigrants also bring aspects of their lives to companies that help all employees get exposure to other cultures. Even the opportunity to be exposed to different religions, customs, types of food can be enriching for companies and offer employees opportunities to increase their own understanding of the world. The mix of people from diverse backgrounds can also make companies more competitive. Diverse companies can benefit from multiple perspectives and are often credited with seeing things that other, less-diverse companies, may overlook.
4. Immigrants are adaptable and flexible and therefore great fits for startups.
Startups are supposed to do things faster, better and with fewer resources, which requires a special type of worker. Immigrants are great for startups because they tend to be flexible and resourceful based on their life experiences.
5. Immigrants are risk-takers.
Moving to another country requires a great deal of courage, which is why immigrants make great employees and also great entrepreneurs. In today’s innovation economy, employees need to be creative and willing to take risks. Immigrants learn to fail fast and recover faster.