The Time for Immigration Reform is Now

Veronica Walther, one of the owners of Walther Goss Law, is honored to team up with New American Economy to push for commonsense immigration reform, knowing it will benefit the United States as a whole and Minnesota in particular.

Minnesota’s economy has reaped the benefits from a dramatic growth in our immigrant population. If you’ve lived here more than a few years, the growth is noticeable. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of immigrants residing in our state has tripled—and 60,000 immigrants settled here in 2014 alone.

It’s easy to notice the many new immigrant-owned stores, restaurants and other businesses around us, but until now the fiscal impact of immigration on Minnesota’s economy has been vague. Thanks to New American Economy, we can now see every detail of the economic contributions immigrants make in our community. Immigrant-led households in our state earned $12.2 billion in income in 2014. These households pay nearly $700 million in taxes in our congressional district alone With these taxes, our local communities get to see dollars reinvested through support for local school districts and government infrastructure. Immigrants also exercise significant buying power and support local businesses such as grocers, salons, and restaurants.

Our state and our nation are losing out on economic opportunities due to outdated visa policies that work against our current market needs. Minnesota is currently home to more than 16,000 immigrant business owners—2,250 in our congressional district alone. The number could be potentially higher, but no dedicated visa exists for individuals who want to come to the U.S. to start businesses from scratch. Immigrant-owned businesses generated more than $289.1 million in business income in 2014 for our state, and these companies – including Walther Goss Law – employed 52,932 in Minnesota. 35% of the Fortune 500 companies in Minnesota were started by immigrants or their children, and these high-powered companies generate $86.7 billion in annual revenue, employing 200,633 people around the world.

We’re losing talented international graduates from our state universities due to our outdated, broken immigration policy. Right now, 1 in 7 students earning a master’s degree from a Minnesota university in a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program are foreign-born, with little chance to actually work in the U.S. after graduation. Many are required by current laws to return to their countries before even attempting to establish permanent residency in the US. That means we’re sending highly-trained young people who have studied at our own institutions out into the world to compete against us, instead of working with us. Many countries have quickly adopted visa programs for entrepreneurs and skilled workers to snag the talented individuals we shut out.

This situation faced by our students is just one cumbersome, counter-intuitive example of why our immigration system no longer works for us. Enacting sensible immigration reform is long overdue. To grow our economy, we need a stable, reliable workforce to support our industries, particularly in light of Minnesota’s aging population. That’s why today I’ve teamed up with NAE and leaders from across the country to take action. We’re calling on our Congressional delegation to take action on immigration reform, and I invite you to get involved.  Without an overhaul of current visa policies, we will continue to miss out on opportunities for growth. This nonpartisan, common sense issue needs to be a priority in Washington. The time is now.

This post was written by .

Attorney and partner at Walther Goss Law.

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