“Who Figures an Immigrant is Gonna Have a Pony?”

Assumptions About Immigrants

Trying to make casual conversation, Jerry Seinfeld strays into some awkward territory with his aunt Manya, an immigrant from Poland. The clip humorously reveals that Jerry has little understanding of the life of an immigrant. Check it out.

Jerry is not alone. Misconceptions about immigrants and refugees are extremely common. Some are silly. Others are more serious. For example, the assumption that because many immigrants come from desperate situations they are unproductive and a drain on our social systems, is a common yet mostly inaccurate perception. I am continually amazed by the skills and abilities of many immigrants I get to know. Moving abroad requires extra drive and determination, and these are traits that often translate to impressive contributions to the collective well-being and prosperity of the new homeland.

Consider the following statistics:

  • One out of every four U.S. tech companies established since 1995 was founded by an immigrant.
  • 60 percent of the 25 most highly valued tech companies were co-founded by first or second generation immigrants. 
  • 43 percent of businesses on the U.S. Fortune 500 list were launched by immigrants or children of immigrants.
  • In 2016, 83 percent of the winners of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair were children of immigrants.

From “This Land is our Land: An immigrant Manifesto” by Suketu Mehta
(Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019) p. 198.

The pioneering spirit that has characterized the United States from its beginning continues to attract innovative, entrepreneurial people from all over the world. Personally, I hope that welcoming people from other nations, backgrounds, and skill sets remains one of our highest priorities.

1 Comment

  1. Well said! US had always had the reputation of haven for smart immigrants. On the other side of the world, people in developing countries claim this “brain drain” hurts home. While that’s true to certain extent, I believe having a global diaspora outweighs the loss. Immigration rates to US have slowed down in recent years; it’ll be interesting to see how this pans out in future.

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