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Time for Kaptur to Support the Dream Act & Leverage the Power of Immigrants to Revitalize Our Economy

 Op Ed by Richard Herman, Esq.

Congratulations go out to US Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (Toledo) for her victory over US Congressman Kucinich (Cleveland) in the hotly contested Democratic primary campaign for the newly-drawn 9th District.

Fresh off this win, and a likely upcoming victory over her Republican opponent, Samuel Wurzelbacher (“Joe the Plumber”) in November, 2012, Kaptur has some fence-mending to do with the immigrant communities. 

In particular, she will need to start a new conversation with Latinos in the 9th District, who now comprise the largest Latino voting bloc in the state of Ohio.

Marcy Kaptur

Joining a large Republican “NO” vote, Kaptur’s controversial December 2010 vote against the DREAM Act, and her zealous encouragement of citizens to contact the FBI if they uncover undocumented immigrants, became a hot topic in the Democratic primary of March 6, 2012. 

Her actions puzzled many, particularly since the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM Act) will increase the number of college graduates, entrepreneurs, and jobs in the 9th District.  

It’s good for our economy, our security, and our nation. That’s why the DREAM Act has long enjoyed bipartisan support. It’s limited, targeted legislation that will allow only the best and brightest young people—not just Latinos—to earn their legal immigration status after a rigorous and lengthy process, and applies to those brought to the United States as minors through no fault of their own by their parents, and who know no other home.

For the upcoming November general election, Kaptur should find a strategic advantage in moderating her position on immigration. 

The overwhelming majority of Northern Ohioans do not support Wurzelbacher’s extreme position on immigration, such as the mass deportation of all 12 million undocumented immigrants.  This position is extreme even within the Republican Party, which largely believes such a plan is not feasible, nor desirable, and would entail the creation of internment camps all across the United States.

Kaptur should seize this opportunity to distinguish herself from her opponent AND embrace a new discussion on how smart immigration reform can create jobs for Northern Ohioans. 

In a region of the country that is looking for new solutions to stay competitive in a knowledge-based, entrepreneurial and global economy, Kaptur has the opportunity to offer fresh thinking.

What is often lost in the heated discussions about the DREAM Act, and of immigration generally, are the national security and economic benefits to average US-Americans. 

  • The DREAM Act will contribute to our military’s recruitment efforts and readiness. Secretary of Defense Gates has written to DREAM Act sponsors citing the rich precedent of non-citizens serving in the U.S. military and stating that “the DREAM Act represents an opportunity to expand [the recruiting] pool, to the advantage of military recruiting and readiness.” The DREAM Act is also a part of the Department of Defense’s 2010-2012 Strategic Plan to assist the military in its recruiting efforts.
  • The DREAM Act will allow our immigration and border security experts to focus on those who pose a serious threat to our nation’s security. Secretary Napolitano believes this targeted legislation provides a firm but fair way to deal with innocent children brought to the U.S. at a young age so that the Department of Homeland Security can dedicate their enforcement resources to detaining and deporting criminals and those who pose a threat to our country. 
  • The DREAM Act will make our country more competitive in the global economy. DREAM Act will allow these young people to live up to their fullest potential and contribute to the economic growth of our country. In particular, the DREAM Act will play an important part in the nation’s efforts to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, something vital for America to remain competitive in today’s global economy.  Ohio is below the national average in the percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree.   Companies increasingly decide to locate in states which have an educated workforce.  Also, Ohio is also not a beacon for technology startups—new companies usually launched by those with advanced degrees.
  • The DREAM Act will have important economic benefits. According to a recent UCLA study, students that would be impacted by the DREAM Act could add between $1.4 to $3.6 trillion in taxable income to our economy over the course of careers, depending on how many ultimately gain legal status. This income is substantially higher than the income they would earn if they were unable to attend and complete a college education. In fact, research indicates that the average college graduate earned nearly 60 percent more than a high-school graduate. We have much to gain from doing right by these young people.

We want to recruit, develop, and retain the brightest young people and the most innovative, entrepreneurial minds the world can offer—no matter where they come from or how we find them.  Here’s why immigrants are so important to US-America’s job-creation problem:  

In the book, Immigrant, Inc. (Wiley, 2009) which I co-wrote with journalist Robert L. Smith, I unveil these statistics:

·         immigrants are twice as likely as native-born to launch a new business;

·         immigrants are filing patents at twice the rate of US-American-born; and

·         immigrants are more likely than native-born to have earned an advanced degree.

According the Kauffman Foundation’s Index for Entrepreneurial Activity released in 2012, Latinos are launching new businesses at a rate that is 60 percent higher than the national average, and 100% higher than the category of just native-born US-Americans.

Immigrant-founded businesses range from small bodegas, restaurants and shops that revitalize neighborhoods to high-tech companies where the Next Economy is being born.

As with the information technology boom in Silicon Valley where over 50 percent of the tech companies have an immigrant founder (think Google, Yahoo!, Intel, eBay, YouTube), so too are biotechnology, advanced energy and manufacturing innovation and entrepreneurship blossoming in the United States in large part due to immigrant contributions.

A recent study by the Partnership for a New American Economy found that 40 percent of all Fortune 500 Companies were founded by an immigrant, or a child of an immigrant, like Procter & Gamble, Apple, GE, and McDonald’s.  These companies have created over 10 million jobs worldwide and have revenue of $4 trillion dollars per year.

The entrepreneurs behind our startups account for nearly all net job creation in US-America since 1980, generating 3 million new jobs per year.

So, embracing and supporting immigrant talent, like the DREAM Act kids, is economic development—plain and simple.

Talent and skilled workers help companies grow and create jobs.  Entrepreneurs start companies which is THE engine for job-creation in the United States.

At a recent Democratic Primary candidate forum, and in defense of her position on the DREAM Act, Kaptur said “I don’t believe in half measures.  I believe in comprehensive immigration reform.”

While Kaptur may have the luxury of time, clearly the economy in Northern Ohio cannot wait to welcome this new generation of job-creators. 

Ms. Kaptur also suggested that the DREAM Act would only benefit one ethnic group—Latinos.   Read the bill that passed the House in December of 2010. This is not only a Latino issue.  The DREAM Act will also benefit the bright and dedicated European, African, Asian and other immigrant kids that I represent on a regular basis.   Nearly 40 percent of the undocumented population in the United States came to the U.S. legally, but overstayed their visa.  They come from Ireland, they come from Germany, they come from Canada.  They are doctors.  They are engineers.   They are teachers.  And many of them have children who would benefit from the DREAM Act.

But the biggest reason that the DREAM Act should be endorsed by Congresswoman Kaptur is that it would represent an integral part of the region’s economic revitalization strategy and a new conversation on the economic benefits of smart immigration reform.

Looking to regain our footing after the recession, and after progressive depopulation in cities like Cleveland and Toledo resulted in reduced representation in the U.S. Congress and consolidation of a Congressional District, Northern Ohio needs to get its swagger back.  

To do that, we have to embrace the DREAM-keepers and the Job-creators.


Editor’s Note: Richard Herman is an Ohio and Michigan immigration lawyer who has been  voted 9 consecutive years as a “Super Lawyer.” Herman is the co-author of "Immigrant, Inc. -- Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy (and How They Will Save the American Worker)," and he is one of the architects of a national movement to revitalize America’s economy through federal and local “immigrant friendly” policies which welcome and attract job-creating, entrepreneurial, skilled and investor immigrants to distressed regions of the country, particularly in the depopulating Rust Belt.   Herman travels the country as a speaker for the Partnership for a New American Economy, a national coalition founded by Mike Bloomberg & Rupert Murdoch and comprised of 500 CEOs and Mayors who believe in the economic benefits of smart immigration law reform and in welcoming immigrants.  He is the co-founder of TiE-Ohio, a chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs Association based in Silicon Valley.  Herman is also a co-founder of Global Detroit, and is the co-author of the high skill immigration policy of the Metropolitan Chambers of Commerce (30 Chambers in Great Lakes Region).  He has appeared on FOX News (The O’Reilly Factor),  ABC News 20/20, National Public Radio, affiliates of NBC, CBS, and ABC, and has been interviewed by numerous television and radio stations around the U.S.   Herman has appeared in USA Today, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Inc., PC World, Computerworld, CIO, TechCrunch, Washington Times, San Francisco Chronicle, InformationWeek, Journal of Corporate Recruiting, National Lawyers Weekly, and newspapers and magazines around the world. 

Richard Herman will be presenting a seminar on the power of immigrant talent & entrepreneurship at the 16th Hispanic Leadership Conference, Lorain, Ohio, April 21st.  http://www.chiplorain.org/2012/Brochure2012.html


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Revised: 03/27/12 05:21:26 -0800.





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