How immigrants and diversity strengthen the US economy
On Sept. 17, we celebrate the 232nd anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. In light of this important anniversary and as we head into an historic election defined in large part by immigration policy, I find myself reflecting on what truly makes America great.
I immigrated to the United States over 30 years ago. Like many im- migrants, I worked tirelessly to not only complete coursework around my graduate degree, but also spent evenings perfecting my English. What little free time I had on weekends, I read stories of our Founding Fathers and the dramatic events during the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia.
The idea of naturalization envisioned by our Founding Fathers was unique in the 18th century. Today, more than ever before in American history, this is the Constitution’s greatest contribution to the concept of “America.”
Alexander Hamilton, with an eye toward growing the early American economy, made clear, “Immigrants exhibit a large proportion of ingenious and valuable workmen.”
Although so much has changed since the days of our Founding Fathers, naturalized U.S. citizens and their children still embody this ingenuity. Google, Tesla, Yahoo, Amazon and Pfizer are just a few examples. Indeed, according to a recent study, 43% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.
President James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, envisioned that the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution depend upon pluralism and diversity in American society. During the Virginia Ratifying Convention, Madison argued, “This freedom arises from that multiplicity of sects which pervades America … for where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute the rest.”
Secretary Hamilton realized that immigrants bring a unique perspective to the American workplace. President Madison realized that diversity of our population actually helps defend our Constitutional freedoms. Similarly, the diversity that immigrants bring to America buttresses our economy.
Like me, many immigrants do not arrive in America with an existing job offer, an extensive academic pedigree or deep knowledge of English. But with hard work and a commitment to the Constitution, these immigrants have and will continue to make America great. The diverse tapestry of the ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds that have built our United States were on the stage Sept. 12 at the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate in Houston.
I have been blessed to live the American dream. My wife and I have raised two beautiful daughters. I have grown an international business in Pennsylvania.
As Americans reflect on the Constitution’s timeless significance on this 232nd anniversary, we should celebrate its vision for embracing diversity. As our country braces for the most costly and contentious election in our history, we as everyday voters should remember the wisdom of our Founding Fathers.
As the political candidates descend on my swing region of Pennsylvania this time next year, I hope they too will embrace our diverse immigrant communities.