New Paper Discusses Opportunities in the Hands of New Americans

Policy and Advocacy Associate

November 8, 2016

America’s prosperity is linked to new Americans’ access to the opportunities, skills and status that allow them to reach their full potential. Immigrants have vigorously contributed to our society — rejuvenating our culture and making outsized contributions to our economy. Immigrants represent 13.3 percent of the total U.S. population, yet they make up nearly 17 percent of our total labor force. Their entrepreneurial spirit and drive to innovate play an even more outsized role in business creation — more than 27 percent of all new business owners are immigrants, and more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. Immigrants also contribute to our economy with their consumer spending.

The National Immigration Forum released the latest installment in its series of white papers about its Immigration 2020 agenda, “Getting Opportunities in the Hands of New Americans Striving for the American Dream,” which addresses obstacles immigrants often encounter and highlights some existing programs and promising practices meant to assist newcomers in overcoming these difficulties.

For many immigrants it is challenging to start anew in America. The job market, the banking and financial systems, rules for starting a business, our school system and our immigration system all can be somewhat of a mystery for new immigrants. We need to address the lack of knowledge that immigrants may have about our laws, institutions and financial system. For America to continue to prosper, immigrants must be aware of and understand all the opportunities provided by our country, so they can use their talents and drives to fulfill their potential, boost our economy and enhance our society as a whole.

The paper provides a set of recommendations for helping immigrants achieve just that. Specifically, it recommends establishing a White House Office for New Americans; expanding the services of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Office of Citizenship; improving how government agencies provide immigrants with key information; implementing practices ensuring that immigrants are included in programs for small business owners; and supporting immigrant and refugee students to reach their full potential at school.