shutterstock_107175095Small business owners throughout the United States have a pulse on the goings on within their local communities. They recognize that immigrant workers and their families are also consumers, which helps to create additional jobs and bolster local economies. Within that context, two new polls highlight small business owners’ perspectives of immigration and its positive effects on the ground in communities. Overwhelmingly, the surveys show small business owners, regardless of political affiliation, support comprehensive immigration reform.

Small Business Majority recently released the results from a poll exploring the extent to which small businesses support comprehensive immigration reform. The results stem from an internet survey conducted in early March of a sample of 500 small business owners from across the United States. Main Street Alliance and the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a similar survey yesterday. Their results derive from a telephone interview survey of small business owners also conducted in March. The sample populations for both surveys were demographically, geographically, and politically diverse, with strong bipartisan agreement across party lines for most items in each report.

The detailed Small Business Alliance report and Main Street Alliance report both contain similar key findings around small business owners’ views on immigration reform and immigration’s impact on local economies and communities:

  • Most small business owners – nine in ten – in the Small Business Majority report recognize that our current immigration system is tragically flawed and the majority of respondents support a bipartisan effort to reform it. Similarly, the Main Street Alliance report shows strong small business support for immigration reform, with further emphasis on the role of immigrants in the economy and in communities.
  • The Small Business Majority report shows that small business owners recognize that immigration and immigration reform is good for America (84 percent) and that immigrant entrepreneurs help facilitate business and economic growth for the country (66 percent).
  • According to the Small Business Majority report, almost three-quarters of small business owners recognize the need to allow more high-skilled workers to enter the country to benefit the overall economy, while 64 percent agree that there is an economic need to allow more less-skilled workers to enter the U.S.
  • Many small business owners (73 percent) in the Small Business Majority report see a need to revise the guest worker system by creating a new worker visa that would allow portability and mobility for workers to change employers as part of a protection from abusive employers, as well as a path to transition beyond temporary status.
  • The Main Street Alliance report shows that two-thirds of small business owners support a roadmap to citizenship for immigrants already living in the U.S., and 61 percent favor a roadmap to citizenship for future immigrants over a temporary worker program with no path to citizenship. Most small business owners (three-fourths) in the Small Business Majority report support a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.

Furthermore, the Main Street Alliance report finds small businesses largely agree with the following three statements about immigration’s role in American communities, economy, and society:

  • 82 percent agreed with the statement: “Generations of new Americans, both business owners and workers, have helped build strong local economies and communities. Today, outdated and out-of-touch immigration policies are hindering our economic progress. Addressing immigration is important.”
  • 71 percent agreed with the statement: “Our immigration policies should encourage the economic integration of new American immigrants. This will strengthen the customer base for small businesses, bring new talent to the nation and help those businesses grow and create jobs.”
  • 67 percent agreed with the statement: “Small business owners and their employees are like family. When an employee’s family is separated by our current immigration laws, it impacts morale and focus in the workplace. Keeping families together is important to ensure a productive and focused workforce for small businesses.”

These two survey reports offer yet more evidence that small business owners value immigration reform not only for its economic impact, but for the role it plays in strengthening families and communities.  While small businesses see the positive impacts of immigration in local economies and communities, big business is also beginning to get that message too, as the example of Facebook supporting a new comprehensive immigration reform group suggests. More and more, immigration reform is being recognized for what it is—one of the ways that we can create a better and more productive country that benefits everyone.