A Case for Immigrants And Their Vital Role in the US Economy


Immigration has and probably always will continue to be a hot topic issue. Most recently, the current presidential race has brought it back into the headlines once again. I am writing this in an effort to change the hearts and minds of anyone who feels that immigrants are simply arriving here in masses with their hands out, expecting everything and giving nothing in return.

I can attest to this firsthand because before I was the CEO of Madison Street Capital, one of the most successful boutique investment banking firms in the United States, I was a young man from Ghana, who could no longer resist the draw from a place that seemed to have endless opportunities. So at the age of 15, I left everything safe and familiar behind me and took the biggest risk I've ever taken in my life in order to change the course of it.

Like many teenagers, I lacked the necessary discipline to focus solely on my schooling. I was too distracted by the plethora of activities outside of academics. What kept me interested was coming up with business ideas. All I knew is that I wanted to be a success, and to be successful I also knew I had to work twice as hard. When I was 17, some friends and I started a construction company, and a little later, in my twenties, I started a sales and marketing company that sold children's books and encyclopedias door-to-door. Both of these jobs required diligence, dedication and a great amount of humility.

Despite all of the time, effort, and passion myself and my partners poured into each of these endeavors, they both ultimately failed. At this point, some might have chosen to give up, but I was driven. Driven by the knowledge that the economy in Ghana is not as dynamic as the U.S.; driven by the reality that I now had access to the best economic engine in the world. I was driven by new opportunities. This is a key motivator for many immigrants, and is part of what pushes them to work so relentlessly. We remember what we left behind, and recognize the opportunities now at our fingertips.

Ours is a nation of immigrants, and whether some choose to recognize it or not, this country greatly benefits from their past and current contributions. The motivation for a better life generally leads us to a focus on a either becoming extremely educated, an entrepreneur, or both. A perfect example, and someone I greatly admire, is Elon Musk. He is a fellow immigrant from Africa and someone I believe is one of the most transformational entrepreneurs this country has seen in quite a while, immigrant or not.

Some of the nation's iconic and largest employers were founded by immigrants including, Google, Colgate, Kraft Foods, AT&T, Ebay, and Proctor & Gamble just to name a few.

There will always be exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking, immigrants want the same things for their families that Americans who were born here want for their families, and they are willing to work just as hard, if not harder, to make it happen.