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Migrants prominent among US’ top entrepreneurs

17 January 20170 comments

More than 10 per cent of America’s wealthiest people are from migrant backgrounds, according to a report in Forbes Magazine.

The latest ‘Forbes 400’, a list of the US’s richest people, features several self-made billionaires who began life in other countries.

“Immigrants have taken a beating on television, at political rallies, even on Capitol Hill but on the Forbes 400 it’s a love story,” the magazine says.

“We’ve never had more members – over 10 per cent were born outside the US and that’s (a) healthy thing for American entrepreneurship and job growth,” it said.

There are now 423 migrants among the 400 – up from just 20 in 1986.

Among the migrant members of the list are News Corp founder Australian Rupert Murdoch, Google co-founder and Russian-born Sergey Brin, South Africa-born Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Canadian-born media baron Morty Zuckerman, Israeli-born Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter, Hungarian-born investor George Soros and eBay founder French-born Pierre Omidyar.

Forbes Magazine says that America’s entrepreneur class has nearly always been made up of migrants.

It cites the likes of Andrew Carnegie, a Scot who went on to found a steel empire and John Jacob Astor, originally a musical instrument-maker from Germany who built a fortune in fur and real estate.

The founders of Procter & Gamble, Kraft and DuPont were all immigrants, the magazine says.

Sergey Brin

Forbes Magazine Editor in Chief Steve Forbes says there has been a recent political focus on immigration.

“Today there is anger and opposition that focuses on illegal entry, security (both terrorism and crime), jobs being taken away from lawful residents and the suppression of wages,” Mr Forbes said.

“But most of the work that illegals do is shunned by most Americans, especially jobs in agriculture.”

Rupert Murdorch

“Studies show that there are few instances of abuse in the high-tech world of hiring cheaper immigrant labour at the expense of Americans.

“And for most of our history there was no such thing as an illegal alien because there were virtually no immigration rules: one just showed up.

“In the late 19th Century immigrants were processed at Ellis Island and elsewhere, but that was primarily for health reasons. If you weren’t sick you got in.

“Our history demonstrates that it’s our unique ability to take in immigrants and assimilate them that has been crucial to our incredible record of opportunity, upward mobility and wealth creation.

“Immigrant success here means success for all Americans,” Mr Forbes said.

Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist