As the Trump administration continues its push for aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, a group of business leaders want to use economic data to influence the conversation.

A group called New American Economy--whose members include Y Combinator's Sam Altman, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Twitter and Square's Jack Dorsey, and Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Fleiss--advocates for immigration policies that benefit the economy. To that end, the organization released a report Tuesday, which aims to measure the economic activity generated by immigrants in each voting district of the United States. The interactive report, called Map the Impact, includes the number of businesses started by immigrants, the number of employees at immigrant-owned companies, and the amount of taxes paid by immigrants in 2014.

Nationally, foreign-born citizens own 18 percent of the businesses in the United States. According to Census Data gathered by Map the Impact, the states with the highest percentage of immigrant entrepreneurs as a share of total entrepreneurs include California (38.4), Florida (33.2), New York (32.7), New Jersey (32.3), and Nevada (29.9). Map the Impact also measured the percentage of Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or their children in each state. The state with the highest percentage was Washington, with nearly 60 percent.

New American Economy is an initiative launched in 2010 by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg whose mission is to "bring together more than 500 Republican, Democratic, and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today."

Jeremy Robbins, the executive director of New American Economy, says that the group has been developing Map the Impact for over a year. "You have the left talking about family issues and human rights, and the right talking about border security and national security, but what we wanted to do was to be able to tell as coherently as possible what impact are immigrants actually having in your neighborhood," Robbins says.

While Trump has pledged to make it easier to start a business in the U.S. by, for example, reducing the corporate tax rate, some in the business community fear that his immigration policies will make running their companies more difficult. Tech startups in particular rely on the ability to hire foreign talent with high-tech skills.

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security issued new documents detailing changes to its enforcement strategy, which make more people living in the country illegally potentially subject to fast-tracked deportation. These guidelines come after Trump signed an executive order placing a temporary pause on immigration into the U.S. from seven countries and suggested a willingness to extend that order to other nations. The courts are currently debating the legality of that order. In the meantime, the administration is expected to release a revised version of the order as early as this week.

With fewer immigrants entering the country, presumably the percentage of immigrant entrepreneurs could decrease over time as well.

Robbins says that over the next year, New American Economy wants to collect more city data on the economic impact of immigrants, since that is a popular area of interest for many voters, as well as collect personal stories from foreign-born entrepreneurs.

Published on: Feb 22, 2017