HIAS PA Issues Digest #13: Half of Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants

Thirteenth Edition                                                             December 15, 2017

HIAS Pennsylvania Immigration Issues Digest 


The Center of American Entrepreneurship recently released a study finding that 43% of Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. Among the top 35 companies, 57% of companies were founded by first or second generation immigrants.  The 216 Fortune 500 countries founded by immigrants produced $5.3 trillion in global revenue and employed 12.1 million workers worldwide last year. Highlighted were Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google and child of Russian Jewish refugees, and Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and child of a Syrian father.

What does this mean?

When President Trump calls to end chain-migration, the green card lottery, or severely curtail refugee resettlement, he ignores the fact that immigrants are one of the economic drivers of this country. Immigrants create businesses at a higher rate than native born, and refugees create businesses at an even higher rate than that. He also fails to recognize that the United States, unique among the nations, is a country of immigrants.  Every American citizen, other than a native American is an immigrant, a child of an immigrant or other descendant of an immigrant. Closing the door on immigrants is no different than closing the door on ourselves.




On December 4, the Supreme Court lifted the partial injunction on the Travel Ban 3.0, permitting it to go into effect. As noted in previous digests, the current version of the Travel Ban bars various types of migration from eight countries: Libya, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela. Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland had issued partial injunctions on the ban, for individuals who have “bona fide relationships” to individuals in the United States.

What does this mean?

Travel Ban 3.0 continues to single out Muslim majority countries. Along with the September order on refugees that asks for extreme vetting of individuals from the countries listed above and Egypt, Iraq, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, and stateless Palestinian males, these actions unfairly target Muslims while basing little on national security risks. Instead, these actions split families apart.

The Supreme Court’s statement was issued only days before the ban was argued in twin appeals to the 4th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals. While both courts have found against the government in earlier versions of the travel ban, the Supreme Court’s statement shows support of the government’s position. However, the Supreme Court Order is temporary – as indicated above arguments just occurred in the 4th and 9th Circuits so we await decisions from those courts.

What can you do?

When the first Travel Ban went into effect, people went to the airports, protesting a government who would categorically exclude individuals from coming to the United States based on their religion. Now, few people pay attention. Make sure they do. 

As the travel ban works its way through the courts, pay attention to the rulings. While protests do not directly influence Courts, they can influence Congress and Congress is where legislation can be crafted to protect immigrants’ rights and challenge the Executive Orders and Proclamations that have been issued. It is really important that Congressional representatives get the message that Americans are interested in comprehensive immigration reform that opens doors – not shuts them. All of the messages coming from the Federal government point towards an immigration system that would eliminate family-based immigration and other forms of immigration limiting it solely to those who speak English, are well-educated and are in “America’s best economic interests”. We all know how certain “tests” have been used in the past as thinly veiled attempts to simply discriminate.


Immigration and Custom Enforcement released their statistics for the last year. Statistics of interest include:
  • 30% increase in administrative arrests compared to FY2016 and a 42% increase in administrative arrests since the Presidential inauguration.
  • However, although arrests were up, total removals decreased 5.9%.This is due to fewer apprehensions at the border, which ICE attributes to the deterrent effect of their work. Others argue that apprehensions at the borders are fewer because individuals claiming asylum are illegally being turned away at the border.
  • There has been a 145% increase in ICE arrests of non-criminals - going from 15,353 to 37,734 persons - since FY2016

What does this mean? 

First, these statistics are proof that ICE arrests, contrary to what is frequently stated in the news, are not only of criminals and terrorists. Read the above statistics again – more than 37,000 people detained were non-criminals—only violators of civil law. They are innocent of any crime but nevertheless put behind bars and not given an attorney. Families are being torn apart and justice as we know it in this country is simply non-existent for more than 37,000 people.

What can you do?

Many individuals have a legal right to be in the United States, including asylum-seekers. Donate to HIAS Pennsylvania’s legal program so that those who have a right to stay in the country have the legal support they need to make that claim.


In addition to the 5,300 Nicaraguans reported on in the last digest,  59,000 Haitians will lose their legal status and be subject to deportation if they do not leave in the 14 months. The status for Haitians was granted in 2010 after an earthquake ravaged Haiti.  Prior to now, TPS was extended because Haiti struggled to recover from the natural disaster, and Haiti continues to be the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

What does this mean?

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was a program enacted by Congress in 1990 to protect people fleeing war or natural disasters. While it was meant to provide temporary legal status to eligible persons, there is no disaster that is sufficiently temporary. People who flee war or natural disasters and are consequently granted TPS are enabled through this status to work and go on with their lives. They pay taxes, they contribute to the national and their local economies, and they marry and have American citizen children. TPS is just another example of an immigration benefit that does not go far enough. Ripping these individuals from their families, communities and jobs hurts the American economy, their American families and our American neighborhoods. Immigration reform efforts that allow TPS holders to naturalize after a certain time period is much more consistent with our values and better for our country. HIAS PA has helped a number of individuals to get TPS, and will continue to work with them to assess other options.

What can you do?

Donate to support HIAS Pennsylvania’s legal services to ensure that individuals with TPS are screened for other paths towards residency in the U.S.  It’s been a hard year for immigrants and we need your support to keep the door open and our communities thriving.

HIAS Pennsylvania in the News

P-CAN Coordinator Mary Clark appeared on Philadelphia Univision to speak about our two new Citizenship Programs.

Director of Refugee Programming, Rona Buchalter joins discussion on media coverage of immigrant and refugee issues.



Managing Attorney Philippe Weisz discusses the travel ban and other immigration issues on the most recent episode of KYW Newsradio’s Flashpoint, aired this past weekend, December 9 and 10.

HIAS Pennsylvania was highlighted in a WHYY feature about Rohingya refugees living in Philadelphia.