Immigrant entrepreneurs fleeing America

US, Los Angeles: An immigrant woman marches to demand legalization for all immigrants and to stop deportations and the attacks on workers in Los Angeles, California on May 1, 2011. (AFP Photo / Gabriel Bouys)
Faced with challenges and a dwindling US economy, immigrants who came to America with big ideas and true business savvy are packing up and leaving as foreign markets begin to prosper.

US President Barack Obama commented recently on the importance of immigrant entrepreneurs.

"We want more Andy Groves here in the United States," he said, remarking on the Hungarian-born entrepreneur's startup success in America. "We don't want them starting Intel in China or starting it in France."

However, Obama failed to set policy which will keep enterprising immigrants in America.

Obama has called for comprehensive immigration reform on a number of occasions, but failed to deliver or even propose adequate legislation. In addition, most congressional leaders and Americans, while they do not support letting just anyone into America, would support allowing more doctors, entrepreneurs and educated immigrants come over. Aiming at just comprehensive immigration reform misses an opportunity to reform aspects of immigration which could bring in smart and educated individuals to help jump-start America’s economy.

America’s leaders seem to misunderstand the market and see immigrants in one category without recognizing the diversity, or the urgency of the situation.

Globally entrepreneurs once saw opportunity in America alone, but the world has changed. Today entrepreneurs see prospects in India, China, and South America and beyond. The world’s top minds can stay home and innovate or go elsewhere outside of the US. There is less incentive to seek out only an American dream in the modern age.

Many entrepreneurial immigrants who came to America for success and found it are also learning they can now return home and achieve more success or try their hand elsewhere. Many are opting to leave the US for greener pastures.

A recent study showed a great deal of entrepreneurs who come to America for business or study, and indeed opt to return – a growing percentage are doing so – are more successful in the home countries than estimates say they would have been in the US.

The US immigration structure, paired with other factors, pushes many to return home early. Some see the US economic decline as a sign America might not be a strong of a long-term investment any longer.

As India, China, and others like Brazil continue to boom entrepreneurial minds have greater option and can even return home where they are comfortable and be with family and start major companies. This is driving much of the growth in each of those countries.

Those who return home often found it much easier to start a new business. The expedience and lack of overbearing bureaucracy allows start-ups to thrive faster. As the markets overseas boom, quality of life becomes comparable with the US.

Experts argue American policy makers need to act fast or face becoming outpaced by more than just China. Other nations are booming, and will continue to do so as long as their policies favor entrepreneurialism – something no longer supported as well in the US.

Reforms to business laws and immigration are needed to expedite and make more clear the process by which once can start a business and work in America.

One such proposal is the Startup Visa Legislation. Experts agree this piece of legislation, aimed at creating a new visa for entrepreneurial individuals, would dramatically simplify the process for hiring educated and skilled immigrants and bringing in immigrants seeking to start a new innovative venture. The program would boost American entrepreneurship by keeping and bringing in more skilled workers from abroad.

As it stands however there has been little movement on the bill. Thus, immigrants continue to leave or simply opt for other locations other than America.

A lack of urgency paired with political reprisals for addressing immigration leaves American policy makers at fault for what may become a large brain drain from America, with the bulk of skilled workers leaving to peruse their dreams elsewhere – the end of the American Dream.