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Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, was a featured speaker at the Bush Institute's immigration conference in December. This week Puzder again offered his perspective on the immigration reform debate, this time in the form of an excellent column for Politico. Puzder opens his piece by explaining the important contributions that immigrants make to his own business. Citing annual revenues of $1.3 billion, Puzder writes, "By tapping the potential of a diverse workforce, our company has prospered." He then shows a businessman's understanding of the concept of scale, arguing that for the U.S. economy to grow faster, "our nation must reform a broken immigration system to help American businesses tap in to the potential of a diverse workforce on a far larger scale." As Puzder makes clear, immigrants are already making their presence known in the U.S. economy. My recent immigration handbook has all kinds of facts and figures relating to this, and Puzder highlights several of them. For example, immigrants account for 16% of the U.S. workforce despite representing only 13% of the total population. Immigrants also represent a disproportionate share of small business owners and, especially surprising, have started an astounding large percentage of Fortune 500 companies. In the wake of last November's election, immigration is one of the hottest topics in Washington. While this political interest provides an opportunity for reform, Puzder makes it clear that "we should implement immigration reform not because of politics but because it's the right thing to do." Indeed it is, especially because of the potential for reform to speed economic growth. And Puzder has some ideas about what reform should look like, writing:
The right immigration system will protect the border, raise or lower immigration quotas depending on need, increase transparency for businesses, assist legal immigrants and produce a balanced solution for those who came here unlawfully but for honest reasons. This system is attainable. It’s not too much to ask our government — which consumes so much of our national wealth — to produce an effective and workable immigration system in return.
Matthew Denhart is an expert on immigration policy and is the author of the Bush Institute’s America's Advantage: A Handbook of Vital Immigration and Economic Growth Statistics, now in its third edition. He currently serves as executive director of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation and is a founder of the Coolidge Scholars Program which provides full-ride merit scholarships to America's most promising college students. A summa cum laude graduate of Ohio University, Denhart has written and spoken widely on a variety of policy topics including the economics of higher education, labor, and taxes. He has contributed articles to numerous national publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes.com, CNN Opinion, and Bloomberg View.Full Bio