In 2002, an immigrant bought a distressed company. When she bought the company, it was on the brink of failure, facing operating losses, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) liens, and losing customers and employees. Within two years, she stabilized the company. Within four years, the revenue grew six times over, from $200,000 in 2003 to $1.2 million in 2006.
Of course, we all know what happened next: The great recession of 2008.
Her industry experienced the worst economic downturn in its history with an unemployment rate of 20%. The industry bottomed out in 2009 with the production about almost half of what it had been a few years before. The production in 2010 and 2011 remained the same as 2009. The largest company in the field cut 30% of its workforce. Other companies closed or declared bankruptcy.
My client’s company bucked the industry trend in 2009 and continued its growth in 2010. In 2009, her company’s revenues increased 25% over 2008, while the industry at large contracted 23% over the same period. In 2010, the company had 50% sales increase over 2009. Instead of conducting layoffs, her company kept all its employees and added new employees and contractors. She quadrupled the payroll of the company during the last recession.
She did this while she was here on a temporary work visa. Due to the nature of our immigration system, her path to getting a green card was held up at the time because of United States government red tape and complex immigration laws that are designed to keep people out.
She saw opportunity and hope where other people saw loss. Through sheer force of will, she turned a company from a nearly bankrupt failure into an industry innovator.
As the president reportedly considers closing down America to more people, including those on nonimmigrant visas, I know, based on my client’s example and decades of other examples from my immigration law practice, that it is the wrong choice. Every time I hear someone say that immigrants take jobs, I wonder what they would make of my client. I think she had more faith in the American dream than they do.