By Heberto Sanchez
How does an economy grow without immigrant entrepreneurs?
Quite simply, it doesn’t.
Which is why President Trump’s new announcement to rescind the Immigrant Entrepreneur Rule, which would allow certain immigrant entrepreneurs a legal pathway to launch companies in the United States, is terribly misguided.
Immigrants start businesses at about twice the rate of U.S.-born Americans. In my home state of California, immigrants make up 27 percent of the population but comprise 38 percent of its self-employed, according to New American Economy.
They’re behind an estimated 51 percent of our country’s billion-dollar startups, and immigrants or their children founded more than 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies in the United States. The National Venture Capital Association found that a stunning one-third of U.S. venture-backed companies that went public between 2006 and 2012 had at least one immigrant founder. But what if those founders hadn’t been allowed to start their businesses on U.S. soil?
In my years as founding CEO of the Latino Educational Fund, I’ve helped dozens of immigrants and their children get ahead. Their entrepreneurial passion isn’t unlike that of my own hardworking parents. My father, who was born in Mexico, was a union meatpacker in Los Angeles, and my mother, who immigrated from Nicaragua, worked as a beautician. I was born and raised in Koreatown.
Every time there was an election, my dad would work at the polls and painstakingly explain the propositions and ballot measures to me. They taught me to give back, and to value civic engagement. I believe in the promise of democracy and a level playing field for all. I also believe that the United States is still one of the best environments in the world to start and grow a successful business.
No one can argue with the facts: immigrant entrepreneurs bring millions to the U.S. economy, and the jobs they create support countless American families.
Right now, we still attract talent from around the world, but that’s not going to continue if our elected officials can’t come together to stop President Trump’s anti-business proposals.
By rescinding the Immigrant Entrepreneur Rule, President Trump is sending us reeling backwards. He talks a lot about America first, but without IER, we’ll be giving away our advantage—and playing right into the hands of our foreign competitors.
Heberto Sanchez is the founder and president of the Latino Educational Fund, a non-profit based in Los Angeles. He has served on the board of directors for the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.