Recently, the Flagstaff City Council passed a resolution in support of DACA, Dreamers and comprehensive immigration reform. I was proud that the resolution had bipartisan support, and if you consider the facts it becomes clear why sensible immigration policy makes sense regardless of political affiliation. Immigrants are a vital part of Arizona’s economy – they are employees, business owners and taxpayers.
According to a recent study published by the New American Economy, 22 percent of Arizona’s entrepreneurs are immigrants (available at newamericaneconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/nae-az-report.pdf). In 2014, immigrants paid about $1.7 billion in state and local taxes and had spending power around $16 billion. Immigrant-owned businesses generated $1.3 billion in 2014. They also paid into entitlement programs, including $543.6 million into Medicare and $2.1 billion into Social Security. Simply put, Arizona’s economy needs immigrants.
Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start new businesses. These range from more than half of this nation’s grocery stores to 51 percent of the country’s billion dollar start-ups. Here in Arizona, 40 percent of our Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. These companies generate $49.6 billion in annual revenue and employ 54,000 people.
DACA helps bring people out of the shadows and into the economy. The evidence shows that this is good for the state and good for business. Flagstaff will do everything we can to be a welcoming and inclusive place for new Americans. If Arizona and this country are serious about growing the economy and promoting new businesses, our leaders will do all they can to make DACA permanent and create a clear path to citizenship. FBN
By Coral Evans
Coral Evans is the mayor of Flagstaff.