|The Center for Immigration Studies’ Steven A.
Camarota and Mark Krikorian summarize their recent study “Reconsidering
Immigrant Entrepreneurship: An Examination of Self-Employment
Among Natives and Foreign-Born”, this way:
"Between 1960 and 1997, the self-employment rate of
immigrants fell from 13.8 percent to 11.3 percent, while the
self-employment rate for natives increased from 9.6 to 11.8
percent. The difference is now statistically insignificant; by
1997, therefore, the presence of immigrants had no effect on the
overall level of entrepreneurship in the U.S."
I'd like to add a few points.
A. The bizarre fact that employers can count immigrants
toward the fulfillment of their affirmative action quotas has
tended to depress immigrant entrepreneurship over the last 30
years. If you just arrived from Guatelombia and find that, say,
Texaco is desperate to hire more Hispanics to get the EEOC off
its neck, why not take a nice secure job with them rather than
risk starting your own auto body shop?
B. The quality of immigrants has regressed toward the mean
significantly in the last couple of decades. When the
immigration floodgates were opened in 1968, those foreigners who
initially rushed to America tended to be courageous and
enterprising enough to dare to be the first person from their
extended family to move to America. Nowadays, most immigrants
are coming because they've got a bunch of relatives in America
upon whom they can rely on for work.
C. While immigrant entrepreneurs do indeed create jobs, they
don't create many jobs for American citizens. Instead, they tend
to employ mostly family members and other immigrants. The
reasons for this are many, such as:
1. Their business operate more smoothly when the employees
speak the same language as the owner/manager.
2. Most immigrants come from what Francis Fukuyama calls
"low-trust" cultures like Latin America, the
Philippines, China, and the Middle East. In those countries, you
can't count upon the legal system for justice, so you must
depend on your relatives. They bring this clannish mindset with
3. Our family-reunification immigration policy provides them
with lots of relatives who need jobs.
4. They often come from patriarchal cultures where the oldest
male is expected to force younger relatives to do his bidding
through threats of ostracism -- this management tool doesn't
work terribly well upon native-born employees.
5. Immigrant entrepreneurs are not infected by political
correctness, so they feel no guilt over holding caustic
stereotypes of Americans, especially African-Americans, who they
tend to see as shiftless, ignorant pilferers, and thus won't
give black job applicants the time of day. For example, one of
the main causes of the LA riot of 1992 was native blacks'
resentment of the palpable contempt that Korean shopkeepers
express toward their African-American customers.
6. Immigrants who operate business in black neighborhoods are
terrified that if they hire local blacks, these homeboys will
transmit their underclass attitudes, or worse, to their own
children. One of the greatest fears of many an immigrant
entrepreneur is that his daughter will present him with a
grandson named Deion Washington Jr., who was conceived during a
storage room dalliance with delivery boy Deion Washington Sr.
For all these reasons, a huge fraction of the jobs created by
immigrant entrepreneurs tend to go to other immigrants, not to
D. The main benefit that American citizens get from immigrant
entrepreneurs is in better quality and cheaper prices. In
certain industries like the restaurant business, the advantages
that high immigration brings affluent native-born whites with
sophisticated palates are spectacular. However, immigrant
entrepreneurship reduces American entrepreneurship by
foreclosing opportunities. For example, if there weren't
hundreds of Korean liquor-store owners in South Central LA,
there would still be hundreds of black liquor-store owners in
South Central LA. The history is that most of the liquor stores
in South Central were owned by Jews up until the Watts Riot of
1965. After that most of the Jews sold out to local blacks. But
after liquor prices in California were decontrolled in 1978,
owning a liquor store became a hard, competitive business, and
most of the black proprietors sold out to members of the surging
Korean immigrant community. If, however, there weren't a lot of
harder-working immigrants to either compete with or sell out to,
the blacks would presumably have stayed in business. They would
have offered higher prices, shorter hours, and their stores
wouldn't be as tidy. And thus ghetto blacks would probably drink
less. But more blacks would be small businessmen, and in general
that would be a plus for America.
E. Nonetheless, there are outside America's borders quite a
number of outstanding entrepreneurs who would definitely be a
net boost for current American citizens if they immigrated.
Unfortunately, our present family-reunification-driven
immigration policy does a bad job of admitting them, preferring
instead to choose immigrants on the grounds of nepotism. Any
kind of more rational and meritocratic system, such as Canada's,
would be a significant improvement over what we've got.