What do Jeremy Lin of the Knicks and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings have in common? Both owe their success to immigration – and both are creating jobs and strengthening our economy.
Lin, whose parents came from Taiwan, and Lidstrom, who was born in Sweden, are helping their teams sell tickets and merchandise, while also helping tavern owners sell burgers and beers. But they are also helping the NBA and NHL to expand in overseas markets – something every major corporation in America is trying to do. The more a company expands its overseas exports, the more jobs it can create here in the U.S. – and the more tax revenue it produces for local, state, and federal governments.
In a presidential election in which both sides are debating economic growth and immigration separately, all parties should emphasize the relationship between them. The fact is the link between legal immigration and job creation couldn’t be stronger.
Immigrants, especially those with advanced degrees, play a vital role in helping U.S. companies create jobs, as a recent study by the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the bipartisan Partnership for a New American Economy has shown. The study found that each foreign graduate with an advanced degree from a U.S. university who stays and works in the innovation-rich fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (“STEM” fields) creates on average 2.62 jobs for American workers.
Yet right now, even though many of the world’s brightest STEM students train in our universities, the federal government forces many of them to leave as soon as they are handed a diploma. When these graduates return to their home countries, they go to work for foreign companies that compete against us – or they found companies that will create jobs overseas, rather than here in the U.S. This is the federal government at its most frustrating. And it is doing real damage to our economy.
Immigrants also drive new business creation. More than 40% of our Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or a child of an immigrant – companies like Google, Yahoo, and Intel. In Michigan, major companies like Dow, Masco and Meijer were founded by immigrants, as were major New York City companies like Pfizer, Foursquare and Nathan’s Famous. Yet the longer we wait to fix our broken immigration laws, the more these innovative companies will be founded overseas. If that is allowed to happen, we will do enormous damage to America’s future and our standing as the world’s economic superpower.
Economists are in agreement that our broken immigration policies hurt our economy and make it harder for our companies to compete. And interestingly, so are the candidates for president. All the major candidates in both parties have come out in support of reforming our immigration laws to attract the world’s brightest minds. (Learn more at www.NoDebate.org).
The trouble is that the debate around immigration is too often focused on politics, not economics. If both parties would pass legislation based on their points of agreement, rather than engage in endless debates over their points of disagreement, we could create thousands of jobs all across the country at a time when so many out-of-work Americans need them.
America needs more superstars like Jeremy Lin and Nicklas Lidstrom – in every industry. And we need our leaders in Washington to stop blocking sensible legislation and start scoring some points for the American worker.
Michael Bloomberg is mayor of New York City. Rick Snyder is governor of Michigan.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg