Hector Barreto

For years now, immigration reform has been a polarizing topic. However, Washington, DC is one step closer to restoring America’s greatness after the Senate’s 68-32 successful vote on S. 744 “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013”.

The promising determination and solid leadership shown by the Gang of Eight on this issue shows their commitment to achieving a fair and effective system of legal immigration that will expand the flexibility of the nation’s labor force and economic growth.

We all agree the current system has many flaws, and that comprehensive reform needs to include a number of things. Enhanced border security is of highest concern for the nation, but we cannot ignore that growing our economy and reaffirming our commitment to building an innovative workforce for the future are just as important.

Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report regarding the financial impact of comprehensive immigration reform. The report found that the economic impact of the legislation more than makes up for the cost associated with the bill. In fact, the CBO estimated that in the first ten years after the reform is passed, the federal deficit will be reduced by $175 billion.

Immigrants come to this country seeking freedom, liberty and opportunity. They are hard working, faithful, family-oriented and patriotic. They are the foundation of America’s success and are the key factor for renewing this nations economic greatness.

Former President Bush said the policy discussions on immigration reform should be done with a “benevolent spirit” that keeps in mind “the contribution of immigrants.”

I couldn’t agree more. Immigrant entrepreneurship often conjures up success stories like that of Alexander Graham Bell or Andrew Carnegie. In reality, stories like these point to the fact that immigrants or their children founded more than 40 percent of America’s Fortune 500 companies. Iconic businesses such as Apple, AT&T, Colgate-Palmolive, General Electric, Google, Kraft and McDonald’s to name a few were founded by people from other countries.

Economic and demographic data studies have shown that in California, immigrants founded more than one-third of the state’s businesses; in Delaware, 64 percent of the engineering PhD graduates are foreign born; in Colorado, immigrant-owned businesses generate more than $1 billion per year for the state; and in Illinois, more than 90 percent of the patents awarded had at least one foreign born inventor.

It worked before. Why is it any different today?


Hector Barreto

Hector Barreto is the Chairman of The Latino Coalition and the former US Small Business Administrator.