Small Businesses Strongly Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Scientific opinion polling shows small businesses think immigration reform will be good for small business and America; strongly support Senate immigration reform proposal

Washington, DC—A scientific opinion poll released today shows small business owners recognize our current immigration system isn't working and support comprehensive reform because it will be good for America, good for small businesses and provide major economic benefits. The poll also found small employers strongly support a current bipartisan Senate proposal aimed at reforming the broken system.

The poll, conducted March 4-10, 2013 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and American Viewpoint on behalf of Small Business Majority, found a sweeping 88 percent of small employers agree our immigration system is broken and needs either a complete overhaul or major improvements. What's more, 84 percent believe immigration is good for America, 66 percent think immigrant entrepreneurs drive business growth and 67 percent agree immigration reform will be good for small businesses by establishing a qualified, trained and stable workforce.

"As the son of two immigrants, I believe the drive and determination my parents instilled in me, as a result of their immigrant experiences, made me who I am today," said Arnulfo Ventura, owner of Coba, a Mexican beverage company in Los Angeles, Calif. "Immigrant entrepreneurs have always made extraordinary contributions to our nation's economic growth and competitiveness. That's why we need policies that encourage immigrants to navigate opportunities in the U.S., and either start a business or become a part of our workforce."

The vast majority of small business owners think that creating a path to earned citizenship is the most appropriate solution for handling our country's 11 million undocumented immigrants. Three-quarters believe we would be better off if people who are in the country illegally became legal taxpayers, so they pay their fair share and can work toward citizenship in the future. A 62 percent majority agree undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. should be allowed to stay here, and 54 percent think they should not only be allowed to stay here, but to apply for citizenship.

Additionally, small business owners strongly support each individual provision of the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform proposal. More than eight in 10 support increasing the number of visas for legal immigrants who have advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, and 87 percent support requiring illegal immigrants with no criminal record to register for legal status, pass a background check, learn English, pay a fine and pay taxes. A broad three quarters agree the argument that turning 11 million undocumented immigrants into taxpayers which would add $1.5 trillion to the economy over the next 10 years and produce a net increase in tax revenue of $4.5 billion to $5.4 billion in the first three years alone makes them view the Senate's comprehensive reform plan positively.

"Small business owners understand that fixing our country's immigration system will help them foster better workforces, which will bolster their bottom lines and our economy as a whole," said John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority. "Increasing the number of pathways for immigrants to come to this country, stay legally and pay taxes will strengthen our economy and encourage a robust and diversified business sector. Everyone benefits when we encourage hard-working immigrants to bring their skillsets to the U.S. and let previously undocumented immigrants legally join our workforce, pay taxes and contribute in a meaningful way to our economy."

Strong majorities of small business owners think it's important to increase the amount of both high and low skilled foreign workers allowed in the U.S., with 74 percent agreeing we should allow more high skilled foreign workers into the country legally and 64 percent saying we should allow more low skilled foreign into the country legally. What's more, one in five entrepreneurs report they use immigrant labor because they can't find enough U.S. citizens to fill open jobs.

Additional findings:

  • Seven in 10 support admitting more immigrants when the economy is doing well and fewer immigrants when it's not doing well; two-thirds support allowing undocumented immigrants to work toward citizenship over time.
  • 73 percent support creating a new system under which Americans would get the first crack at jobs and a federal bureau would be created to advise Congress on the country's workforce needs and how to adjust the number of available visas. The new visa could allow workers to eventually move beyond temporary immigration status, and switch employers to protect themselves against unscrupulous ones.
  • Nearly half of entrepreneurs with more than 10 employees have utilized legal immigrant labor and seven in 10 of them say the experience was positive.
  • One in five small business owners surveyed is the son or daughter of an immigrant, and one in 10 is an immigrant.
  • A strong majority (71 percent) of small business owners who employ legal immigrants use immigrant labor year-round; 13 percent also use seasonal immigrant labor. One in four use it seasonally, only.
  • A 46 percent plurality of small business owners identified as Republican or independent-leaning Republican, 35 percent identified as Democrat or independent-leaning Democrat and 11 percent identified as independent.
  • This poll reflects an Internet survey of 500 small business owners across the nation, drawn from the Research Now panel and conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and American Viewpoint for Small Business Majority. The survey was conducted from March 4-10, 2013. The overall margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent.

For the full poll visit:

About Small Business Majority
Small Business Majority is a national small business advocacy organization, founded and run by small business owners to focus on solving the biggest problems facing America's 28 million small businesses today. Since 2005, we have actively engaged small business owners and policymakers in support of public policy solutions, and have delivered information and resources to entrepreneurs that promote small business growth and drive a strong, sustainable economy. We are a team of more than 30 working from our 11 offices in Washington, D.C. and 9 states, with a network of more than 45,000 small business owners and more than 2,000 business organizations, along with a formal strategic partnership program of more than 125 business organizations, enabling us to reach more than 500,000 entrepreneurs. Our extensive scientific polling, focus groups and economic research help us educate and inform policymakers, the media and other stakeholders about issues including taxes, healthcare, access to capital, entrepreneurship, workforce development, clean energy and immigration. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.