We need to make best use of immigrants in our economy

We need to tap the potential of immigrant entrepreneurs and whiz kids.

To do this, we should reform our immigration policy to allocate visas for immigrant entrepreneurs and green cards for immigrants who have earned advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math.

Everyone knows this country needs more good jobs. To promote development that makes a real impact, we need to support innovators — people who recognize a need and have the talent, expertise and perseverance to fill it.

Between 1990 and 2005, immigrants founded 25 percent of all public firms in the United States. Software, semiconductors and biotechnology were the top sectors for private immigrant-founded companies with venture backing, according to a study by the National Venture Capital Association.

Immigrants earn half of all new engineering Ph.D.s awarded in this country, according to a study by Global Detroit, a group that seeks to revitalize the economy of southeastern Michigan. With America’s world-class universities, the immigrant community is filling an invaluable resource pool with highly educated, highly motivated entrepreneurs. Why do we drain that pool with antiquated immigration policies?

Immigrants do not take our jobs. They help create them.

We need to reform our immigration policy to give our economy a lift that is long overdue.

Sonia Harb is senior director of the ACCESS Immigrant Entrepreneur Empowerment Center in Dearborn, Mich. ACCESS is the largest Arab-American human services nonprofit organization in the United States. She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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