The land of opportunity. This is just one of the many nicknames given to the United States, fulfilling the concept of the “American Dream.” In recent years, however, many people have been questioning the legitimacy of the concept as it has become increasingly difficult to make your way in this country. When faced with a harsh job market, there is only one logical solution: make your own job! And that’s what many Americans did, rekindling the innovative spirit that this country was built on and prompting an influx of start-ups. Despite this big-thinking entrepreneurial bug, one group is restricted in their abilities. In a recent Kauffman Policy Digest, the Kauffman Foundation revealed that immigrants, that is, those most well-known for pursuing the American Dream, have an extremely difficult time realizing their innovative ideas due to legal barriers. Also according to the Digest, “immigrants are almost twice as likely to start businesses in the United States as native-born Americans, with many of these firms creating large numbers of jobs.” It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to find a major disconnect between these two statements. Why are the most entrepreneurial among us also among the most oppressed, at least in a start-up sense? The answer lies in convoluted pages of legal jargon about visas and programs available (or not as the case may be) to immigrants. The Foundation goes further, outlining ideas that are floating around on federal, state and local levels that would broaden visa capabilities and afford immigrants training opportunities to begin their own business. To put it simply, these changes would make quite a shake-up in the start-up community. If there is one consistency across all start-ups, it is that beginning a business is a collaborative process. Putting up restrictions prevents the best and brightest ideas that come through collaboration to even exist. Entrepreneurship needs to be a free and open process in order for it to thrive. With the current state of immigration affairs, things are clearly broken and it is up to Congress to pass reform to fix it. The United States is the Land of Opportunity and the home of the American Dream that so many people strive for. Let’s work toward that goal instead of suppressing the very spirit of this country.
The Kauffman Policy Digest can be found at http://poly.rpi.edu/s/0m918.