Immigrants Aren’t Exceptional in Business and Innovation

Immigrants are responsible for launching about half of the country’s most successful [business] start-ups and producing a striking number of patents. — The Economist 10/12/13. More than 52 percent of Silicon Valley start-ups were founded or co-founded by immigrants . . . . – Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

Fact Check: Immigration advocates would have us believe that immigrants are far more likely to be entrepreneurs and innovators than native born Americans, and that our economy would stagnate without the superior abilities of the foreign-born. Using this claim, many high-tech companies insist that they must have free rein bring in as many foreign workers as possible.

A good refutation of this superior immigrant myth is provided by a recent blog David North at the Center for Immigration Studies. To read it, click the link below:

Start-up Founders, Patents, Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics and Migration Policy“.

In summary, North, citing two high-tech authorities, points out that the myth derives from statistical manipulation. The key to understanding it lies in Lofgren’s phrase “founded or co-founded.” Companies often have multiple founders, just some of whom are immigrants. Yet immigration advocates depict them as immigrant founded.

To illustrate, the blog lists the co-founders of four leading U.S. tech companies: Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Google, and Intel. Each has two co-founders, but only in one (Google) was the co-founder an immigrant. Thus, one could say that one-fourth of these businesses were “founded or co-founded” by immigrants. But in terms of actual percentage of foreign-born participation in all, the figure was only about 13 percent—about the same percentage of the foreign-born in the total U.S. population. This sample therefore reveals no disproportionate talent among immigrants.

As for patents, there may be a “striking number” of immigrants who have received them, but does their number exceed the foreign-born percentage of the general population? The blog cites studies indicating that it is actually less.

Finally, even if it were true that foreign-born people are generally better at start-ups and innovation, it does not follow that the foreigners U.S. companies want to hire are among the best and brightest. Often the companies hire average to mediocre foreign workers because they can pay them less than Americans and otherwise exploit them more. The myth of the super immigrant is simply a cover to advance this agenda.              


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