Immigration Reform 2013: 40% Of Fortune 500 Companies Were Founded By An Immigrant


Those against comprehensive immigration reform often cite jobs as a reason they oppose a pathway to citizenship. It’s a narrative that plays well in America. Amid an economy that still fails to produce enough jobs, the fear that any job will be taken by an immigrant is enough to send some people to the right on immigration reform. The belief that immigrants don’t make jobs, just take jobs, is just plain wrong. That’s where the website InnovateforAmerica hopes to come in. 

According to the Economist, is a project of Scott Sandell, a venture capitalist. His plan is to get American firms with immigrant founders to talk about their stories and how many people they have hired in America. As the website notes, around 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or one of their children. These companies produce $5 trillion in revenue for the U.S. economy. The report by the Partnership for a New American Economy explains why this is significant, “The revenue generated by Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants of children of immigrants is greater than the GDP (gross domestic product) of every country in the world outside the U.S., except China and Japan.”  

This Economist graph shows that immigrants create jobs all over the U.S.

Immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies employ more than 3.6 million people, when you look at companies founded by immigrants or one of their children that number climbs to 10 million people worldwide. A quarter of high-tech start-ups have an immigrant founder, that includes companies like Google. The creators of InnovateforAmerica are worried that people will lose sight of this given the contentious debate. The website just launched on May 2, but already the website boasts 3,735 American jobs created by immigrants or their children. As the sites creators call for more companies to contribute their stories to the website that number will assuredly increase. 

Not enacting comprehensive immigration reform threatens this. The U.S. lets in about 225,000 foreigners with special skills per year, many other countries let in many more. There are talented foreign workers who want to come to America to help spurn innovation and development. If we don’t let them in, they will go else where. In fact, that has already started to happen. The belief that immigrants come to America to take American jobs is just wrong. It is unfounded and it only perpetuates faulty stereotypes of immigrants that adds nothing to the immigration debate. Steve Case, co-founder of AOL says, “Research shows that every 100 additional foreign-born workers in STEM jobs created 262 additional jobs for native U.S. workers.” Here is a look at the effects immigration reform would have on the American economy. This graph helps to illustrate why the passing comprehensive immigration should matter to all Americans.

In the  2012 issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science they found “Immigrants not only add to large or high-tech cities and metros but also to older, more economically hard put communities and rural towns.” Richard Florida of The Atlantic wrote an extensive piece on the topic. In his final paragraph he sums up the current debate and its dangers perfectly, “After all, the biggest danger we face from immigrants is having too few of them.”

He’s right. Immigrants contribute to more than 25% of global patents, they also make up nearly a quarter of the U.S.’s total science and engineering workforce. We are talking about highly skilled and highly educated people here and losing them will, without question, have an adverse effect on our economy. Americas immigrants are also Americas competitive edge. Both high skilled and low skilled immigrant workers help the American economy. Americans workers are not competing for the same jobs that low skilled immigrant workers are. Passing comprehensive immigration reform will help to spurn innovation for years to come and that's just not something that we can afford to pass up based upon the spurious claims of a few.