Immigrant Heritage Month (IHM) 2019, a nationwide effort to gather and share the inspirational stories of immigrants in America. Spearheaded by the I Am An Immigrant campaign, this year marks the sixth annual Immigrant Heritage Month, an opportunity to celebrate immigrants and immigration, our heritage, and the countless contributions that immigrants have made and continue to make to our nation.
Currently, about 13% of the U.S. population is of recent immigrant origin. Immigrants contribute in incredibly important ways to our society. Economically, this 13% immigrant segment actually overrepresents itself by contributing about 15% of the country’s economic output. According to a recent study by New American Economy, 28% of new businesses in the country were founded by immigrants.
Another study shows that about 40% of companies on the Forbes 500 list were created by immigrants or by children of immigrants. Companies such as Google (founded by Sergei Bryn from Russia), Yahoo (founded by Jerry Yang from Taiwan), eBay (founded by Iranian/French entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar) and many more have made radical innovations to our way of life that couldn’t have been possible without the immigrants that built them.
And immigrant contributions are not limited to our economy. The cultural landscape of America has been shaped by immigrants for years and they are starting to be recognized at the highest levels. For example, the last three consecutive winners of the Academy Award for Best Director have been Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro, three immigrants from Mexico and Kehinde Wiley, the son of a Nigerian immigrant became the first African-American to paint a presidential portrait.
This year, the celebration is more relevant than ever, as many immigrants have been unfairly maligned in the current political climate. The I Am An Immigrantfoundation has also launched the #IStandWithImmigrants initiative, which will run for an entire year and seeks to give a platform to individuals, companies and organizations that want to take a stand and support their immigrant employees, colleagues, friends and neighbors.
Companies have also stepped up their game in recent years to show solidarity towards immigrants and refugees. Chobani founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, an immigrant from Turkey, began a program to hire refugees that were settling near the Utica, New York region, close to the Chobani facilities. The UPS foundation also recently donated over 14
million dollars to a collection of NGO’s working on behalf of refugee safety and relocation efforts. Remitly has steadily supported immigrant causes throughout the years. Recently, CEO Matt Oppenheimer testified before congress to defend remittances and along with New American Economy, Remitly also participated in the iMarch for Immigration series of events to discuss different ways in which comprehensive immigration reform could be attained.
If you are an immigrant, you can share your history (and your family’s) on social media with the hashtags #iamanimmigrant, #celebrateimmigrants and #immigrantheritagemonth and #Istand WithImmigrants.
Sources: www.Fwd.us and Remitly