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National

10:55pm July 14, 2013

Immigration and Its Deep Roots in Social Justice

immigration-reform

Comprehensive immigration reform has been a hotly contested issue in recent times across many states and on the national stage.  But restrictive immigration policies will cause unintended economic consequences, adversely affect first class digital citizenship, and stifle entrepreneurship opportunities for minorities. The issues surrounding comprehensive immigration reform are of compelling public interest, as well as the national and economic interests of the technology, media, and telecommunication industries, which constitute one-sixth of our nation’s economy.

Hispanics – the largest group of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. –  say their immigration status is the “most important factor” leading to discrimination against them. According to Pew Research Center, more than 60 percent of Hispanics say discrimination against them is a “major problem.” This problem ultimately discourages Hispanic immigrants from adopting broadband at home and hinders their participation in the mainstream economic market, which hurts our economy.

Fear of personal disclosure, deportation, and family division can make these immigrants hesitant to take advantage of our digital society.  In fact, more than half of all U.S. Hispanic adults live in fear of deportation of a close friend, family member, or even themselves. As a result, these communities are less likely to obtain healthcare, seek employment, engage in civic duties, and pursue educational opportunities.

Hispanics also demonstrate concerns over online privacy, exacerbating the above problems when we live in an age where access to these opportunities is much easier with an Internet connection.  Thus, to prevent the digital divide from widening and to ease their fears about personal disclosure on the Internet, we must educate these communities about the benefits of broadband adoption and digital literacy.

Comprehensive immigration reform can resolve these issues and provide an overall benefit to the economy and therefore all of American society.  Currently, the discrimination that immigrants encounter drives them out of the mainstream economy and negatively affects their earning and spending power. If Congress enacts well-thought-out comprehensive immigration reform, this trend could reverse. The Center for American Progress found that comprehensive immigration reform would increase the U.S. household income tax collected by $5.6 billion by 2030 and increase the U.S. gross domestic product by at least $1.5 trillion over the next ten years, a figure that includes a consumption increase of $1.3 trillion. Undoubtedly, these projected earnings and consumption increases could translate into more computer and mobile technology purchases plus broadband adoption, which all improve digital literacy skills and boost our digital economy.

Comprehensive immigration reform can also improve small business ownership, a further benefit to the economy.  In 2010, immigrants were nearly twice as likely to launch new businesses in the U.S. than their U.S.-born counterparts, and immigrants were more likely to apply for patents for business start-ups. In fact, they were responsible for the explosive growth in patenting per capita that year, which increased the U.S. GDP. However, if we don’t fix our immigration system, it will inhibit minority entrepreneurship and discourage future immigrant entrepreneurs from competing on American soil.

Immigrants have developed cutting-edge technologies and founded some of the nation’s top firms. First-generation immigrants and their children founded nearly 43 percent of U.S. Fortune 500 companies, including Google and eBay. Additionally, other sectors of our economy are heavily dependent on immigrant workers. Clearly, high-skilled and low-skilled immigrant entrepreneurs and workers have been and will continue to be vital to our economy.

The U.S. Hispanic population is also vital to the growth of diverse, niche legacy and new media. Currently, Hispanics constitute 16 percent of our nation’s population, but they only own “2.9 percent of full-power commercial television stations, and 4.5 percent and 2.7 percent of AM and FM radio outlets.” As this population continues to increase, the demand for Hispanic broadcast and digital media will continue to rise. This could help drive Hispanic media ownership and significantly bolster our nation’s economy.

Logical, comprehensive immigration reform would not only enhance diversity and innovation in the digital era, but it would expand opportunities for aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs and provide a boost to our recovering economy.

Hopefully, Congress is listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



About the Author

Wendy Rivera
Wendy Rivera
Wendy Rivera is an attorney with a solid background in civil rights, commercial, and administrative law. She is a Participating Attorney for the Florida State Conferences Branches of the NAACP and joined a regulatory firm as Deputy General Counsel where her portfolio includes Foreign Ownership Investment Reform. Wendy is the Director of Hispanic Affairs and Staff Counsel for Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC). MMTC is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media, telecommunications, and broadband industries. MMTC is recognized as the nation’s leading advocate for minority advancement in communications. Wendy’s work is primarily focused on communication issues that have the greatest impact on minorities and women entrepreneurs. Wendy launched MMTC’s new Immigration Reform Initiative to help generate support for immigration reform from the large media, telecom, and broadband companies and provide a voice to expand opportunities for aspiring Hispanic immigrants to enter the media and telecommunications industries. She is the Executive Director of the Multicultural Education Alliance (MEA), a nonprofit organization that promotes open and collaborative dialogue between parents, administrators, educators, students, lawmakers, and the community to improve educational opportunities and student achievement. Wendy has given her time, leadership, and support to benefit many worthy causes. She serves as a Rapporteur for the Diversity and Inclusion, Telecommunications and Internet Policy Task Force, Ambassador for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando, and serves on the Orange County Advisory Board. Wendy earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Central Florida and her Juris Doctorate from Stetson University College of Law. She is admitted to practice in Florida and before the United States District Court in and for the Middle District. She lives in Florida with her husband and children.




 
 

 
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4 Comments


  1. ErikKengaard

    “restrictive immigration policies will cause unintended economic consequences” “The three decades . . . from the mid forties to the mid seventies, were the golden age of manual labor. Why were times so good for blue collar workers? To some extent they were helped by the state of the world economy. They were also helped by a scarcity of labor created by the severe immigration restrictions imposed by the Immigration Act of 1924.” Paul Krugman, Conscience of a Liberal, Chapter 3 (pages 48-49)


    • Singledigit

      Exactly.

      Legally document millions of people to work in the US, what will happen? Those now legally able to work will want jobs that citizens want.

      Then what happens? Businesses don’t hire illegal workers for the most part because “they do the jobs nobody else wants.” That’s a canard. Businesses hire undocumented workers because they are VASTLY less expensive. Even at the same wage.

      Now when millions of workers obtain documents to legally work in the US? Where will those businesses go for less expensive labor? A new wave of illegal workers will cross the border, and they’ll find work. We saw this after Reagan gave amnesty.

      Given the horrific black unemployment rate? How can anyone who “cares” about his ethnic group gaining employment be for giving any illegal immigrant documents to work in the US?


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