Immigration is a topic that’s been top of mind for our businesses for years – and for good reason. As we rallied out of the recession and today have historically low rates of unemployment, we need all hands on deck. That’s why we were shocked to see last week that the federal administration would turn away 1.3 million kids eager to continue their studies, find jobs and fill economic needs in the communities they call home.
Since 2012, our board of directors has supported a path to citizenship for these kids – young people who came to Colorado before they were 18 years old. We know these are our neighbors, classmates and, through DACA, our colleagues.
Our members believe all Coloradans should have the opportunity to work and contribute in the country they have long called home – the United States of America. And immigrant entrepreneurs make a big impact in Colorado:
- They employ 84,000 Coloradans.
- They generated $566 million in business income in 2014 and immigrants earned $14.1 billion that year. That’s a lot of spending power.
- They paid $1 billion in state and local taxes in 2014 and $2.3 billion in federal taxes – and those figures are only for foreign born workers, not for all of those who are employed by a foreign-born business owner.
And here’s another big impact: If those 1.3 million youth across the U.S. are given a path to citizenship, they would add $329 billion to our economy. We have strongly supported DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) for these youth and will continue to support their desire to go to school and to work, both of which directly contribute to the economy of our state and the community in which they live.
Kelly Brough is the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber.