Gregory Ferenstein, writing at TechCrunch about Vivek Wadhwa’s latest research:
Nearly a quarter (24.3 percent) of engineering and technology companies had at least one foreign-born founder; in Silicon Valley, it’s nearly half (43.9 percent). Nationwide, they’ve helped employ more than half a million workers (560,000) who contributed $63 billion in sales just in 2012.
Those numbers demand superlatives: they’re staggering. The common assumption is that immigrants do jobs US citizens don’t want to do. This research would seem to turn those assumptions upside-down: immigrants often do jobs for which US policy, educational institutions, and deeply-ingrained social strictures simply leave our young people unprepared.
My Citizenship and Immigration class meets twice weekly, on Monday and Wednesday evenings. It really is a fascinating class, and offers a broadened perspective on a hot political issue this election season.
One thing I’ve learned from Professor Peter Spiro (of Opinio Juris and much scholarship), and from research like Mr. Wadhwa’s, is that immigration policy is not as amenable to applause-worthy one-liners as political candidates would prefer it to be.
The angle on Mr. Wadhwa’s recent research, and Mr. Ferenstein’s TechCrunch post, is that immigrant participation in US entrepreneurialism may have peaked already. I wonder, not cynically or rhetorically, but genuinely wonder, whether the US will be able to replace them with adequately-inspired and prepared citizens of its own, and whether the nation wouldn’t benefit from incentivizing continued and increased opportunities for citizens and immigrants alike.
I don’t know what that policy direction should look like, but I think it’s worth thinking, and most importantly, talking about.