Immigration and inclusion power the U.S. economy; efforts to shut out immigrants and refugees will hurt communities and small business bottom lines.
Just days into office, Donald Trump has issued a series of executive orders that shut down our borders and weaken our communities and economies. The first order directs federal funds toward the construction of a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, and an increase in the number of border agents and detention centers. The second order threatens to deny federal grants to sanctuary cities. These attacks on immigrants and refugees threaten stability in communities across the country. Main Street Alliance and our member businesses believe America is strongest when it is most inclusive, and are united in our opposition to Trump’s campaign of fear-mongering and xenophobia.
“America must be a place where people from all nations, races, and creeds seeking freedom and opportunity feel welcome and can build safe, prosperous lives for themselves and their families,” said Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of Main Street Alliance. “By targeting people in our communities for political gain, Mr. Trump is fanning the flames of hatred and fear and his actions must be met head-on with clear statements of principle from local business owners as leaders in their communities.”
Immigrants have always been a driver of economic growth and innovation. Nearly 25 percent of the engineering and technology companies started in the United States between 2006-2012 had at least one immigrant founder, and in 2012, immigrants were almost twice as likely to start businesses as other Americans. If Trump follows through on his plan to to build a wall along our southern border, it will be a monument to intolerance, and a barrier to economic progress. And in targeting sanctuary cities, he takes aim at the best aspects of our national character.
“As a Mexican immigrant and the owner of an architecture firm I make my living building walls. My walls are to house families and keep people safe, not to keep good people out. I’ve been in business for a decade and I see the contributions of fellow immigrants, documented and undocumented, on our local communities,” said Francisco Garcia, the owner of The Building Workshop in San Diego and a member of the Main Street Alliance of San Diego, a sanctuary city. “Advancing policy that locks them out of our economy will be a disaster for our country.”
Since then-candidate Donald Trump first incorporated attacks on Muslims, refugees, and immigrants into his campaign, Main Street Alliance leaders have resisted the divisive and bigoted rhetoric. Today, in response to Trump’s attacks, small business owners across the country are creating safe spaces, and standing up for immigrants and refugees in their communities by posting signs in their shop windows stating, “All Are Welcome Here.”
The financial and moral costs of today’s executive orders are incalculable. In walling the U.S. off from the world, Trump seems to forget that we are a nation of immigrants. Diversity is key to small business success and keeps our communities healthy and strong. If Trump moves ahead with these racist policies, Main Street will suffer lost jobs, innovation, and entrepreneurship.