By Felicia Persaud
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. June 17, 2011: A new report released this week again makes it clear why the continued push for immigration reform has to clearly become an argument steeped in economics.
“The “New American” Fortune 500,” A Report From The Partnership For A New American Economy, found that more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. were founded by immigrants or their children.
Despite the fact that immigrants have made up only 10.5 percent of the American population on average since 1850. Yet there are 90 immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 18 percent of the list. When you include the additional 114 companies founded by the children of immigrants, the share of the Fortune 500 list grows to over 40 percent.
The report also found that the newest Fortune 500 companies are more likely to have an immigrant founder. Just shy of 20 percent of the newest Fortune 500 companies – those founded over the 25-year period between 1985 and 2010 – have an immigrant founder.
Additionally, researchers discovered that Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants, like International Business Machines, employ more than 10 million people worldwide. Immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies alone employ more than 3.6 million people, a figure equivalent to the entire population of Connecticut.
And the revenue generated by Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants is greater than the GDP of every country in the world outside the U.S., except China and Japan. The Fortune 500 companies that boast immigrant or children-of-immigrant founders have combined revenues of $4.2 trillion. $1.7 trillion of that amount comes just from the companies founded by immigrants.
These are the numbers which President Obama, immigrant advocates and lawmakers in support of comprehensive immigration reform should be touting.
There is no denying immigrants are making a significant contribution to the American economy, whether as owners of Fortune 500 companies or as simply pickers on farms that are desperate for the migrant labor.
Immigration reform is an economic necessity and one that should be sold as such by the President and those in favor of reform. This is an argument that crosses all sides and one which even the dumbest or most bigoted conservative lawmaker cannot deny.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is right in highlighting the role of immigrants in America’s economic growth during a keynote speech to the Council on Foreign Relations “The Future of U.S. Immigration Policy” symposium.
His proposals that call for green cards for graduates with advanced degrees in essential fields; a new visa for entrepreneurs with investors ready to invest capital in their job-creating idea; more temporary and permanent visas for highly skilled workers; guest-worker programs to ensure agriculture and other key sectors can thrive; and a revaluation of visa priorities that places a focus on the nation’s economic needs are ones that can be included into any reform bill and supported.
So why is the dialogue and congressional push not going in this direction? Let’s remember that seven of the 10 most valuable brands in the world come from American companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. And many of America’s greatest brands — Apple, Google, AT&T, Budweiser, Colgate, eBay, General Electric, IBM, and McDonald’s, to name just a few — owe their origin to a founder who was an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.
The immigrant contribution to these United States in undeniable and continues to be very much economically driven. Let’s make sure the dialogue and lobbying efforts for immigration reform is also an economic one and not the simpleton version – being sorry for “illegals” who need amnesty.
The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.