The current debate over immigration, and the inertia over developing a sound guest worker policy that dragged during the previous two presidential administrations, has ignored the fundamental truth about the U.S. economy: immigration and innovation together is the foundation of growth.

Immigrants come to America, where they drive innovation. And if your definition of innovation casts a wide net, that immigration varies from the cutting-edge companies that keep popping up in Silicon Valley, or the revitalized communities that keep appearing in the Rust Belt as new revivals live and open businesses in areas other Americans have come to scorn. “Immigration Is at the heart of U.S. competitiveness,” wrote Mohamed Ali, who arrived to the U.S. from Guyana in 1981 and is now CEO of Carbonite, a data protection and storage company based in Boston.

The good news is that more CEOs are speaking out on immigration and how it benefits their companies and the economy. And these are not just leaders of tech companies, the complaints of which are often dismissed as their companies are often reliant on the H1-B visa program, long a target of President Trump and his supporters. The problem, however, is that too many CEOs are willing to score points with the president as they announce new job increases in his presence – even though if these new hiring decisions were made long before he moved into the White House on January 20 or had nothing to do with his policies.

Nevertheless, the din is becoming louder. Take Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo who was among many leaders recently recognized by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), a group that seeks to promote respect for immigrants and takes part in the upkeep of Ellis Island. Nooyi has been an advisor to the Trump White House, but has criticized the administration for its immigration policies. Upon receiving her NECO award, Nooyi reported said:

“All of us are equal and all of us have the right to reach for our dreams. That’s the promise that brought waves of immigrants to our shores in search of opportunity, from the earliest days of the republic to today. And that’s the promise that brought me and my husband here so many decades ago.”

Another CEO who has received criticism for serving as an advisor to President Trump, and is currently traveling with him overseas, is Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase. In an interview last month with Business Insider, Dimon implored the White House to develop an immigration policy that is more welcoming to people who are willing to come to the U.S., work hard and pay their share of taxes. “I think immigration has been one of the vital things about the growth of America,” he told reporter Matt Turner.”

And last week, Randall Stephenson, the chairman and CEO of AT&T, recently told an audience that immigration was “vital” to ensuring the U.S. still has a vibrant middle class. “If you have a (U.S.) population that is slow-growth, you have to have a vibrant population of immigrants,” he said, explaining that the skilled labor they bring to the U.S. helps the country maintain its competitive advantage.

Such words are only the beginning, but they are important. Many Americans have a skepticism of Wall Street, but they are often receptive to listening to business leaders, as they often embody what is known as the American Dream. More CEOs need to highlight the stubborn facts of the U.S. economy – that automation is the biggest killer of jobs, and that immigrants who move to this country are critical in investing in ideas that quite often turn out into new jobs for Americans.

Image credit: Christian Rondeau/Flickr

Published earlier today on Triple Pundit.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.