Citing the coronavirus as the reason, the Trump administration may impose even more immigration restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border. It may sound like a reasonable step to help contain the disease, but it’s not: Canada has about 10 times the number of confirmed coronavirus cases as Mexico—and President Donald Trump is not talking about closing down our northern border.
“We need the Wall more than ever!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.
This isn’t about coronavirus. It’s about continuing to whip up fear toward immigrants, refugees and other people who hope to begin a new life in the U.S. It’s about sending a signal that, as the Trump administration officially declared in 2018, we are no longer a nation of immigrants.
That’s bad news for our economy, and not only because Mexico is our nation’s largest trading partner. Immigrants and refugees are a key ingredient when it comes to driving entrepreneurship and innovation.
Nearly 44 percent of all Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or the children of immigrants. According to the National Immigration Forum, immigrants are twice as likely as U.S.-born residents to start their own businesses. From the perspective of America’s economic competitiveness, immigrants aren’t a want—they’re a need: We face a demographic time bomb as baby boomers become elderly and outnumber young people in the United States. Immigrants are the help we need.
For America’s own benefit, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders must be sure to link immigration to entrepreneurship and a thriving America, not the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of scaring people, this is a moment to inform and inspire.
As the son of refugees who grew up in Saudi Arabia, came to the U.S. and started and sold numerous businesses, this is a personal. In recent decades, I’ve raised hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in dozens of companies, including Tesla, Uber, Lyft and many others. I’m proud to be part of teams that have created American jobs for American businesses.
By Ibrahim Alhusseini for newsweek.com
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