One of the lessons of entrepreneurship is that the toughest challenges also present a great opportunity. Legislators may find that out, too.
Sen. John Hoeven was recently appointed to a bipartisan conference committee of House and Senate members tasked with generating a border security and government spending proposal by Feb. 15 in order to avoid another government shutdown.
These lawmakers also face an issue – immigration – that’s confounded our country for over 30 years. The aftermath of a grinding 35-day government shutdown presents a unique opportunity for the parties to come together to solve a tough issue for the good of the country.
While our extraordinary border security officials need more resources to keep drugs, human trafficking, gang members and criminals out of our country; legal immigration is a net positive for our country and for North Dakota. There are hundreds of businesses in our state that are owned by immigrants. Their firms employ more than 11,000 residents and produce approximately $35 million in income.
We also need legal immigrants for our workforce openings to ensure our state’s economy will thrive. According to the Immigrant Learning Center, nationwide, 43 percent of all Fortune 500 firms were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant and nearly 30 percent of startups in the United States have an immigrant founder.
The entrepreneurial impulse is especially strong in young immigrants, including Dreamers, who have been in the United States for as long as they can remember and consider this country home. They hope to find opportunity and prosperity within our country. Research indicates that those eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are 15 percent more likely to start a business than their U.S.-born contemporaries.
In September 2017, when President Donald Trump challenged federal lawmakers to replace DACA with a long-term legislative solution, Hoeven said, “Congress needs to work to find a legislative solution that permanently addresses this issue in a fair manner, and at the same time ensure that our border is secure to prevent illegal immigration going forward.” We can agree.
As part of this conference committee, Hoeven is doing what North Dakotans do well, solve problems. There is a tremendous opportunity to both increase border security funding and provide permanent protections for Dreamers and for immigrants with Temporary Protected Status.
Any bill Congress considers must be able to attract 60 votes in the Senate and be acceptable to Trump. I am confident Hoeven will resist poison pill provisions that would squash this once-in-a-generation opportunity. He is a serious lawmaker who consistently puts the best interests of our state and country first. He understands the importance of border security, our economy and our workforce. Give him support to capitalize on this opportunity to solve border security, solve the long-standing immigration problem for Dreamers, and avoid another government shutdown.