Will Immigration Reform Hinder Innovation in the United States?

If President Trump’s immigration plan is implemented, American workers, the United States economy and the nation’s competitive advantage could suffer. Since many U.S. businesses depend on foreign talent to fill high-tech positions, and foreign entrepreneurs drive innovation, restricting immigration- especially for high-tech workers, will almost certainly hinder economic growth.

How Immigrants Positively Impact Innovation and the U.S. Economy

According to the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), immigrants play a significant role in the creation of jobs and the success of fast-growing companies as well as the global competitiveness of the United States. In fact, foreign founders have started just over half of the billion-dollar startup companies in the U.S. Additionally, immigrants are often key personnel in some of the nation’s leading privately held companies, holding important roles in management and product development teams in more than 70 percent of these businesses. Recent research also reveals that immigrants create an average of about 760 American jobs per billion-dollar startup company.

A wide variety of companies with immigrant founders provide an abundance of other products and services that benefit U.S. companies and consumers as well.

  • Uber, co-founded by immigrant entrepreneur Garrett Camp, has transformed transportation in cities throughout the United States.
  • AppDynamics, CloudFare, Cloudera and numerous similar companies that were founded or co-founded by immigrants assist U.S. businesses in maintaining information technology systems that enable them to compete in the global marketplace.
  • Numerous other foreign entrepreneurs have founded companies that facilitate online payments and assist with website traffic and security.
  • Without foreign talent, there would be no Apple, Google, Siri, or many of the other companies that fuel the American economy.

Unfortunately, news of Trump’s immigration plan has caused alarm for STEM students in the United States as well, and many are creating back-up plans that could cost the American economy significantly. According to the NFAP, international students have founded nearly one-fourth of America’s billion startup businesses.

Since new immigration restrictions will likely reduce the number of foreign born workers and students who are allowed to obtain visas that enable them to bring their talent to the United States, many experts are concerned that significantly fewer cutting-edge companies will be established here. The NFAP reports that if Trump’s immigration plan had been in effect over the past decade, very few if any billion-dollar startup companies would have been established in the U.S. during that time period.