By Richard Florida, CityLab
For Donald Trump and the populist wing of the Republican Party, immigrants are the enemy, taking jobs away from Americans and eating up public revenue. Since being elected, Trump has sought to curtail immigration in several ways: moving to cut legal immigration by as much as half over the next decade; building a wall along the Mexican border; ending the DACA program that protected so-called DREAMers from deportation; and even limiting “startup visas” for high-tech entrepreneurs entering the United States. This has occurred in the wake of a large body of evidence showing that immigrants, both skilled and unskilled, provide a great benefit to the U.S. economy.
Now, a new study from the Center for American Entrepreneurship shows just how big a role immigrants have played in creating America’s largest and best-performing companies. The study identifies companies on the 2017 Fortune 500 list that were founded either by first-generation immigrants or their second-generation children. Its findings are nothing short of incredible.
More than 40 percent (43 percent) of today’s Fortune 500 had a first- or second-generation immigrant among their founders, even though just 14 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born. Nearly a fifth (18.4 percent) of these companies were founded by first-generation immigrants, and another quarter (24.8 percent) were founded by their children. All told, these 216 immigrant-founded companies accounted for $5.3 trillion in global revenue in 2016 and employ more than 12 million workers worldwide. Immigrant-founded companies make up more than half of the Fortune 25 (52 percent) and Fortune 35 (57 percent).
Rather than preventing people from getting jobs and costing the government money, these immigrants have created an amount of wealth greater than the GDP of Japan, the world’s third-largest economy.
These immigrant-founded companies span all sectors of the economy, as the chart above shows. Immigrant-founded companies make up 46 percent of all Fortune 500 companies in high tech, 43 percent in wholesale and retail, roughly half of consumer goods and transportation companies, 56 percent of industrial and media companies, and almost two-thirds of Fortune 500 business service corporations.
Across the United States, 68 metropolitan areas and five non-metropolitan areas in 33 states are home to Fortune 500 corporations founded by immigrants or their offspring. In Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, and remarkably, New York, a majority of the Fortune 500 companies fit this designation. In Kansas and Delaware, all of them do