New Jersey Business Immigration Coalition
Fall, 2021
News and Views

Pursuing Bipartisan and Evidence-Based Immigration Reform

Immigrants Keep New Jersey Growing
Excerpts from the Guest Blog of Tim Evans, Director of Research at New Jersey Future
New 2020 Census populations illustrate New Jersey’s continuing reliance on immigration magnets for population growth. While data on place of birth are not yet available for 2020, places with high percentages of immigrants as of 2019 generally grew faster than the rest of the state between the 2010 and 2020 Censuses. As a group, the 84 municipalities with a foreign-born percentage of 30% or more grew by 8.9% over the decade, compared to the statewide rate of 5.7%. The 28 municipalities with the highest percentages of immigrants (40% foreign-born or more) grew by 10.1%, nearly double the state’s growth rate. The places that are most attractive to immigrants tend to be the places that have grown the fastest over the past decade.

Part of the reason for the overlap between high-growth municipalities and municipalities with high foreign-born percentages is that the same urban centers—especially in North Jersey—that have traditionally attracted people from other countries have also been attracting young adults over the last decade and a half. The trend back toward older, walkable centers has reversed several decades’ worth of outward suburban expansion and enabled many previously struggling cities and older towns to post their first big population gains in many years—aided by their continuing status as immigrant destinations.

Studies Examine the Core Beliefs of Immigration Advocates and Skeptics
Although the Coalition believes that evidence-based research should guide the development of immigration policy, there are disturbing signs that “facts” don’t always matter in the immigration debate. Strong and deep-seated fears and emotions, often disconnected from facts, very often impede the search for bipartisan solutions.

In a recently released public opinion study by the American Immigration Council, researchers found that rigidity existed on both sides of the immigration debate, with a large number of immigration issues considered “sacred” by both left and right. On the left, for example, stopping family separation is a non-negotiable goal. On the right, withholding public benefits from unauthorized immigrants and stopping illegal immigration have similar holding power. The study concluded that attempts to counter these deeply entrenched beliefs will likely backfire, and that the better approach is to try to find consensus in other policy areas, while not directly challenging these core beliefs. Indeed, the authors go so far as to say that “sacred values must be acknowledged with respect.”

Another recent study done by researchers at the CATO Institute explored the underlying motivation behind these deeply held beliefs. It found, for example, that 69 percent of immigration “restrictionists” worry about becoming a minority in this country, and 82 percent fear greater discrimination against whites over time. How does one deal with these powerful underlying beliefs? Clearly, arguments stressing the value of diversity would not sway immigration skeptics. Rather, as another recent study concluded, if people were told (and convinced) that immigrants were adapting to the American way of life, they would have fewer objections to continued immigration.

This experiment aligns with a growing body of work showing that messages emphasizing common bonds between natives and immigrants may be more effective than those arguing the economic value of immigrants or the value of diversity in general. Although the Coalition will continue to emphasize the economic importance of immigration, we recognize that our arguments may not carry weight with everyone, and that we must find ways to reach people whose values and concerns lie elsewhere.
Time for a Start-Up Visa
for Immigrant Entrepreneurs?

The National Venture Capital Association is urging the creation of a “start-up visa” for immigrant entrepreneurs. In a paper released earlier this year, the Association put forth a number of arguments for creating such a visa. More than 25 countries, including Canada, the UK, Australia, and Germany, have already introduced their versions of such a visa. U.S. inaction in this area, according to the Association, has led to a drop in the U.S. share of global venture capital from 84% in 2004 to 52% in 2010. The paper also points out that startups are “responsible for virtually all net new jobs in the last couple of decades” and that immigrants founded one-third of U.S. venture capital-companies that went public between 2006 and 2012. The paper also cites research showing that startups create more than four times as many jobs as mature firms, i.e. firms operating for 11 years or more. Although the H-1B visa enables aspiring entrepreneurs to gain job experience in the U.S. before launching their own firms, such a visa does not give entrepreneurs the opportunity to start their own firms right away, nor the security of permanent status in the U.S. Bipartisan legislation to create a start-up visa was introduced into the Senate in 2021 by Senators Moran, Warner, Klobuchar, and Blunt. 

In 2019, New Jersey surpassed New York to become the state with the 2nd highest percentage of immigrants to total population (23%) behind California (27%).

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With such a large per capita immigrant population, New Jersey has many other distinctions. It has, for example, more Asian Indian immigrants as a percentage of total population than any other state; it also has more Peruvian immigrants as a percentage of total population of any other state.

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The college-educated immigrant population has increased dramatically over the last couple of decades. As of 2018, 32% of all immigrants in the U.S. had at least a bachelor’s degree. 

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The Migration Policy Institute estimates that there are 247,000 unauthorized immigrants in New Jersey who would benefit from the "parole" provisions of the "Build Back Better" Act

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Click on the "Register" link for additional information on program content and speakers. Events are arranged in chronological order from the earliest to the latest.
Effects of Migration on Institutions: Five Centuries of Evidence, Center for Migration and Development, Princeton University, December 2, 2021, 12 Noon to 1:15 pm ET. Register
Immigrant Essential Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Webinar, Public Education Institute, Immigrant Learning Center, December 8, 2021, 2:00 to 3:00 pm ET. Register
Immigration and Metropolitan Revitalization in Philadelphia and Nationwide, Athenaeum of Philadelphia, December 16, 2021, 6:00 to 7:00 pm ET (In-person event). Register
GET INVOLVED: We want to hear from you!

  • Check out our policy platform here and if your company or organization (or you as an individual) agrees with our principles for immigration reform, sign up as a member of the coalition.

  • Share your thoughts on the immigration reform challenges facing the United States. How is your industry affected? What specific reform proposals are you championing? Write us at:
Welcome to New Members of the
NJ Business Immigration Coalition

Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Montclair State University
New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association?
Somerset County Business Partnership
The New Jersey Business Immigration Coalition,
c/o Einstein's Alley, P.O. Box 175, Plainsboro NJ 08536,