February 29, 2012 NEWS RELEASE — LIRS Welcomes US Chamber of Commerce and IPC Recognition of Refugee Resettlement’s Economic Benefits

Press Contact: Jon Pattee, Assistant Director for Media Relations
202-591-5778, jpattee@lirs.org

BALTIMORE, February 29, 2012 —  Humanitarian refugee resettlement benefits American businesses and communities, a fact made clear yesterday at a joint US Chamber of Commerce and Immigration Policy Center (IPC) event to promote their new report, “Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Economy.”

Refugees make up nearly a third of the case studies in the new report, which was authored by the Immigrant Learning Center (ILC) Public Education Institute as a joint effort of the Chamber and the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Council.

“Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service welcomes this recognition by the Chamber and its partners that humanitarian refugee resettlement creates economic gains,” said LIRS Vice President for Mission Advancement Stacy Martin, who attended the event at the Chamber’s Washington, DC headquarters.

“The need for a careful study of immigrants’ role in job creation has never been more relevant.,” Randy Johnson, the Chamber’s senior vice president for labor, immigration, and employee benefits and former LIRS Board member, notes in the forward to the Chamber’s newly-released report. “The report… demonstrates how these immigrant businesses create jobs for US workers and contribute to America’s economic growth.”

Albert Yousif, who arrived in the United States in 1993 as a refugee from Iraq, was among several immigrant entrepreneurs to share his reflections at the event. Yousif, who came to the United States with LIRS help, went from an employee working 18-20 hour days to owning his own business, A2Z Facility Maintenance Inc. He has turned that success into opportunities for other immigrants, employing many and boosting their English and professional skills.

“Two of those people are entrepreneurs now,” Yousif told LIRS staff the day of the event. “Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? We get them to depend on themselves and help the economy.”

“The developing alliance of businesses, nonprofits, and communities is a source of hope for our economy,” said Mark Stutrud, CEO of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, a LIRS affiliate. “We’re proud of the role LSSM has played in preparing the way for immigrant entrepreneurs to create jobs and prosperity.”

“Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Economy” cites Census data to support the fact that immigrants “are more likely than native workers to choose self-employment and start their own businesses.” Moreover, immigrants started 25% of venture-backed US public companies launched between 1990 and 2005, according to a study cited by the report.

 

About Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

LIRS welcomes refugees and migrants on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States.