Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month: Multiple Contributions across Multiple Sectors

June is Immigrant Heritage Month, thus, it is very appropriate to celebrate the many contributions of immigrants to the country’s prosperity. Throughout this month, immigrant stories or narratives have been posted on #imanimmigrant, Facebook, and other social media outlets. These are inspiring accounts of women and men from different countries establishing themselves as entrepreneurs, service and agricultural workers, and college graduates with professional positions in different industries.

In this newsletter, we provide a few noteworthy facts about immigrants, both authorized and unauthorized, as well as trends about future immigrant growth.

Among the headlines for entrepreneurship from a 2014 report we have [1]

  • The highest rates are for immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa followed by Latinx, Asians and U.S. workers.
  • Immigrants were 20.6% of all entrepreneurs although they were only 13.2% of the overall U.S. population.
  • These entrepreneurs generated $65.5 billion in business income.
  • As the country recovered from the Great Recession, immigrant entrepreneurs established 44.6% of new businesses in California and 42% in the state of New York.

Immigrants and education facts [2]

  • Foreign-born college graduates are increasing at a faster rate than the U.S. born; more than twice the rate.
  • The areas of study most often pursued include high-tech, science or engineering.
  • Today’s new immigrant arrivals, age 25 and older, are more educated than ever before.

States with the highest share of immigrants

These data have implications for K-16 education, hiring opportunities, and the creation of an increasing workforce in these states [3]:

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. New Jersey
  4. Florida
  5. Nevada
  6. Hawaii
  7. Texas
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Maryland
  10. Illinois

Racial/ethnic trends in immigration

  • Asians are projected to become the largest immigrant group, surpassing Hispanics by 2055 [4] – in real numbers, the Asian immigrant population in 2014 was 12,750,000 [5] and projections estimate a 10% increase by 2055.
  • The percent of immigrants who identify as White has been declining since 1965 while immigrants who identify as Asian, Hispanic, and Black have steadily increased [4].

Unauthorized immigrants-economic contributions

We also know that unauthorized immigrants continue to contribute to many industries that are essential to the country’s economic engine. Industries with the highest share of unauthorized immigrants (2012) were [6]:

  • Agriculture (16%)
  • Construction (12%)
  • Leisure & hospitality (9%)
  • Professional, business, & other services (7%)
  • Manufacturing (6%)
  • Civilian labor force (5.1%)

Moreover, undocumented immigrants contribute $11.6 billion to the economy each year. From an economic standpoint, undocumented immigrants are productive members of society who pay a higher effective tax rate than the wealthiest 1% [7].

I come from a family of Mexican immigrants who worked in the steel industry in the Midwest. Like most immigrants, my parent’s goal was for our educational success leading to better lives. Their example of hard work, endurance, and promotion of higher education paid off for their children and now their grandchildren. Immigrant prosperity contributes to U.S. prosperity.

Would you agree?



  1. New American Economy. (2016). Reason for Reform: Entrepreneurship. Retrieved from http://www.newamericaneconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Entrepreneur.pdf
  2. Zong, J. & Batalova, J. (2016). College-educated immigrants in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/college-educated-immigrants-united-states
  3. Manual Krogstad, J. & Keegan, M. (2014). 15 states with the highest share of immigrants in their population. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/05/14/15-states-with-the-highest-share-of-immigrants-in-their-population/
  4. Pew Research Center. (2015). Modern immigration wave brings 59 million to U.S., driving population growth and change through 2065. Retrieved from http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/09/28/modern-immigration-wave-brings-59-million-to-u-s-driving-population-growth-and-change-through-2065/
  5. Zong, J. & Batalova, J. (2016). Asian immigrants in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/asian-immigrants-united-states
  6. Passel, J. S., & D’Vera, C. (2015). Chapter 1: Occupations of unauthorized immigrant workers. Retrieved from http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/03/26/chapter-1-occupations-of-unauthorized-immigrant-workers/ 
  7. Gee, L. C., Gardner, M., & Wiehe, M. (2016). Undocumented immigrants’ state and local tax contributions. Retrieved from https://itep.org/undocumented-immigrants-state-local-tax-contributions-1/#.VuLeIJwrLIW

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  • Belinda McFeeters June 20, 2017   Reply →

    Dr. Arredondo,

    Wonderful article! I certainly agree that immigrant prosperity has and continues to contribute greatly to U.S. prosperity! Thank you for continuing to enlighten the community in celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month. Kudos to the Arredondo Advisory Group for this great work! 🙂

  • Freddy A. Paniagua June 20, 2017   Reply →

    Excellent report on “Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month.”

  • Manuel June 21, 2017   Reply →

    It is encouraging to find a scholarly article addressing an important economic issue where immigration and immigrant play a critical role. Perhaps it your medium that reaches beyond the traditional academic publications and allows less academic based readers to access this important information instead of the slanted emotional newspeak we see on a daily basis. My observation of 70 plus years tell me that we are at a stage of economic values crisis with serious implications for the planet and the species. Perhaps we will come to this realization indirectly through such dialogue. Please keep it coming.

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