One look at today’s U.S. immigration process reveals a broken and outdated system. While I’m encouraged to see that Congress would like to take steps to modernize it, the recently proposed RAISE Act would be a step backward in the efforts of encouraging economic prosperity for all Americans. The bill leaves immigrants with fewer options than they already had and fails to address the economic challenges we face.
The simple fact remains that the U.S. needs more foreign-born contributors to remain successful. Immigrants are drivers of new jobs, innovation, and are critical for local economic support. According to research from New American Economy (NAE), immigrants are responsible for nearly 30 percent of all new entrepreneurs, even though they make up just 14 percent of the population.
As a former U.S. Army Infantry officer, I had the privilege to work with several Iraqi citizens who passionately believed in American values to the extent that they risked their lives to work as interpreters under my command in Iraq. I was able, under a State Department initiative, to assist two of these individuals in relocating to the U.S. and gaining U.S. citizenship. They are now two of my closest friends, “uncles” to my children, and hard-working, law abiding American citizens.
Foreign-born workers are also extremely valuable in the health care industry in which I work. Immigrants are two times more likely to become physicians or home-health aides, providing the support base we desperately need across the industry as we are currently being confronted with a huge shortage of health care workers.
Our immigration system absolutely needs to be updated to fit our changing economy. But immigrants bring us more opportunities, not less. It’s time that Congress reforms the system to reflect that fact for the 900,000 immigrants in Arizona and the millions across our great nation.
— Nick Stavros is chief executive officer of Community Medical Services.
The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.