Our badly broken current immigration system deserves to be fixed properly, not shut down without a second thought.
America has always been known as the great melting pot. We wouldn’t be the country we are today, full of rich, blended and different cultures, had we not embraced the idea that diversity is a great strength. Unfortunately, some of our elected leaders view that idea, and the immigration policies that make America strong and successful, as something to fear, suppress and rage about. Our badly broken current immigration system deserves to be fixed properly, not shut down without a second thought.
When I look at Remitly — the product we’re creating, the milestones we’re hitting, the thousands of customers we’re helping — I know none of it would have been possible without our team members who moved here from other countries to build this company, which has led to the creation of more than 600 jobs to date.
My co-founder, Shivaas Gulati, moved here from India and helped build Remitly from the ground up. Rossella Blatt, who moved here from Italy, is a true artificial-intelligence visionary and our director of machine learning who has built a team that uses machine learning to detect and prevent fraud, keeping our customers’ financial information safe. And Lazaro Carrion, who moved to the U.S. from Mexico when he was very young, earned a full-ride scholarship to a university in Washington and has helped raise our visibility to customers across Latin America. Each one is a key member of our team, and we couldn’t build on our success without their unique talents.
Petitions for H1-B 2019 visas began Monday, and as companies across the U.S. work with their highly-skilled and valuable employees to check the appropriate boxes, I believe there is no better time to talk about the current immigration policies and the need for more common-sense policies that will help grow our economy and create American jobs.
In the last year alone, our government has shut the door on immigrants with despicable policies like the sweeping Muslim ban and capping H1-B visas for employers — preventing jobs in various industries from being filled. There also have been time-wasting debates over funding a ridiculous border wall rather than putting in place the policies that would boost innovation and help create jobs. Then, we faced the mass revoking of protections from deportation for Dreamers, and of Temporary Protected Status for thousands of Haitians, Hondurans and Salvadorans who all have only known the U.S. as their home or fled dire crises in their countries of origin. These attacks on hardworking immigrants who are our neighbors, friends, children’s schoolmates, co-workers, and business owners should have no place in our politics. We should instead be lifting up those who help build the backbone of our economy and culture.
An analysis from the Small Business Administration found that 10.5 percent of U.S. immigrants own a business, compared with 9.3 percent of native-born Americans. In other words, an individual immigrant is about 10 percent more likely to own a business than a nonimmigrant. More than half of U.S. startups valued at $1 billion or more — known colloquially as “unicorns” — were started by immigrants.
In Washington state alone, 1 million immigrants have earned more than $30 billion and contributed more than $8 billion in federal and state taxes. Sixty percent of Fortune 500 companies based in Washington were founded by immigrants or their children, generating $250 billion in annual revenue and employing 425,359 people globally.
In a nutshell, immigrants are a huge boon to our economy.
We need smarter immigration policies that protect our neighbors, encourage safer migration methods, and expand and simplify the H1-B visa process. We are a country built by immigrants and we cannot turn our backs on that principle. Our ability to be a leading nation — socially, politically and economically — requires the diverse perspectives of immigrants. By making processes impossibly complicated and grossly unfair to individuals and businesses, we are setting ourselves up for failure as a nation. We owe it our country and to the immigrants who make it great to fix this broken system.
We promise to always encourage smart policies and opportunities for immigrants in the U.S. — anything else would inhibit progress in our nation and go against the values that make America a great nation.