December 5, 2012
Let’s Open the Door to Lots More Immigration
And in Virginia, immigrants drove 40% of growth in entrepreneurship between 2000 and 2010 ( http://bit.ly/WJXSrF)
Compared with native-born Americans, immigrants are more likely to start a business, more likely to launch a hugely successful one, more likely to work and less likely to commit crime. They’re also willing to take jobs many Americans refuse to do.
Immigrants make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but 18 percent of small-business owners, notes Jillian Kay Melchior in National Review, and they employ 4.7 million Americans. According to The Economist, immigrants or their children make up 40 percent of the founders of Fortune 500 firms.
A higher percentage of immigrants — legal or otherwise — work than do native-born Americans. Many of them, present through a temporary visa program known as H-2A, do a lot of hard agricultural labor, such as picking crops and working in poultry plants. Yet because the program does not allow enough guest workers in, “Plant managers in the Carolinas … have been forced to turn to prisons to man assembly lines,” reports McClatchy Newspapers. Unfortunately, the H-2A program is a bureaucratic, burdensome, inefficient mess. It permits only seasonal workers, not year-round ones. And it “doesn’t deliver workers quickly enough when farmers need them most,” as another recent news story put it.
But wait — with so many Americans unemployed, why not hire locals instead of shipping in labor from abroad? That’s exactly what Colorado farmer John Harold tried to do last year. “It didn’t take me six hours to realize I’d made a heck of a mistake,” he later told The New York Times. “Six hours was enough,” the paper reported, “for the first wave of local workers to quit. Some simply never came back [after lunch] and gave no reason. Twenty-five of them said specifically, according to farm records, that the work was too hard.”
The story gets even worse. In a little more than a decade, the number of visas the U.S. hands out to skilled workers has dropped by a third, says The Economist. The result: Talent that could be creating jobs here in the U.S. is setting up shop elsewhere. The magazine recounts the story of Indian engineers Anand and Shikha Chhatpar, who started a company that creates applications for Facebook. Despite enough business success to pay more than $250,000 in taxes, they were denied visas and went back to India. According to The Economist, “the proportion of Silicon Valley startups with an immigrant founder has fallen from 52 percent to 44 percent since 2005.”
Americans who resent having to compete with immigrants for jobs suffer from a double delusion. First, they assume the supply of jobs is fixed and that we would all be better off with a smaller population. That’s flatly wrong. Immigrants are not just employees, they are also employers and consumers. Second, talk of immigrants taking “our” jobs implies some people have prior claims to jobs they have not yet been hired for. The term for that is “entitlement mentality.” …