Delaware may be small, but we are becoming a destination for immigrants looking to settle in America, join our communities, and contribute to our economy. In fact, between 2010 and 2014, Delaware ranked in the top 10 states where growth in the foreign-born population was strongest. That’s good news for our economy: immigrants create jobs, pay taxes, and contribute to a thriving business community. That’s why today, leaders from across the country are joining the Partnership for a New American Economy (NAE) to kick off the Reason for Reform campaign, highlighting the need for immigration reform in this country.
I am one of those leaders – and this is why I care so much: If you meet a software developer in Delaware, there is a nearly two-in-three chance that you’re talking to an immigrant. If you visit a hospital in our state, the odds are more than one-in-four that any doctor you meet graduated from a foreign medical school, a likely indicator that they were born abroad. And if you filled a room with Delaware-residing immigrants, that room would likely contain about twice as many people with advanced degrees as any room filled with an equal number of native-born Delawareans. Reason for Reform is about these stories and more – and it’s launching today with a new report for every single state on the contributions of immigrants, and events all across the country calling on Congress to take action
Unfortunately, harsh rhetoric usually wins the news headline over the facts that tell the real story about immigration. But NAE’s new research about immigrants in Delaware shows the immigrants are critical to our state’s success. Today, about 80,000 people living in Delaware were born outside this country and they are making our state better. But our broken system is hindering growth for our businesses, our communities, and our key industries. For example, our universities attract many of the best and brightest from around the world – around 5,000 international students attend college here in Delaware. And their presence results in a big economic impact: international students contributed about $151 million to the state in 2015 and supported almost 2,000 jobs. Yet for many of these young talents, there is no path to stay after graduation and work. So they end up going back to home to compete with us from abroad.
Yet the immigrants – students or otherwise — who do manage to find a way to stay permanently are laying down roots. NAE’s study shows that many of the immigrants in Delaware are becoming citizens. In 2014, 47.3 percent of the immigrants in the state were already U.S. citizens. And because citizenship allows immigrants to pursue a greater range of job opportunities, it often leads to better wages, increased tax contributions, and stronger spending power.
Delaware needs real immigration reform so that we can attract the talent we need to grow our businesses, our communities, and our key sectors like healthcare and computer science. Not only do these immigrants strengthen Delaware’s economy and create jobs for U.S.-born workers. Today is just the beginning — I encourage each of you to learn more and lend your voice to the cause at reasonforreform.org.