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BusinessU.S. Chamber of Commerce: ease immigration laws to stimulate economy

Published 26 January 2012

According to a recent report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, easing immigration policies will stimulate economic growth by encouraging more entrepreneurs from abroad to work in the United States

According to a recent report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, easing immigration policies will stimulateeconomic growth by encouraging more entrepreneurs from abroad to work in the United States.

The report, completed with the help of the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Council, concluded that current immigration laws make it difficult for foreign business people to enter the country and begin working.

A June 2011 study by the Partnership for a New American Economy, found that of the Fortune 500 companies, immigrants established 18 percent of them including Google, Big Lots, and Comcast. Those immigrant-founded companies generated $1.7 trillion in revenue in 2010 alone and employed 3.7 million people across the world.

“They are going to contribute and succeed somewhere — why shouldn’t it be the United States?” said Thomas Donohue, the Chamber’s chief executive officer, in a recent speech.

The Chamber’s study concluded that immigrants are more likely than native-U.S. workers to launch their own businesses. As evidence the report pointed to the statistic that 5.1 percent of naturalized citizens were self-employed compared to 3.7 percent of native-born citizens. Furthermore in Massachusetts, in 2008, immigrants only accounted for 14 percent of the population, but started 61 percent of the businesses.

To further U.S. economic growth the Chamber recommends expanding visa programs that would help companies hire foreign-born graduates from domestic universities.

Late last year Representative Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah) introduced legislation that would make it easier for highly-skilled foreign workers to enter the United States, but according to the Chamber of Commerce that bill has become lost in debate.

“I’m frustrated by it,” said Randel Johnson, the Chamber’s senior vice president for labor, immigration, and employee benefits. “But our reaction is to try to pick off the pits and pieces” of reform, “and this is pretty uncontroversial, though anything with immigration has some controversy.”