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Student: U.S. Can Harness Billions of Dollars From Immigrants

Adrian Arreola is the child of immigrants and has witnessed firsthand the fight for success in the United States. “What my dad accomplished with his drive and determination, especially coming from nothing, is amazing,” says Arreola. “I tell him he’s my idol every day.” Indeed, his father was an undocumented immigrant who came to America from Mexico as a small child. Life was a struggle; at one point, Arreola’s dad lived with 20 people in a two-bedroom apartment. But today, he is a citizen with a thriving career at an air-conditioning company. Arreola’s mother, who is originally from Guatemala, also became a U.S. citizen, and works in social media. Together the couple raised two children, both of whom are  working toward their college degrees: Arreola is studying business and finance; his sister is studying psychology.

As Arreola’s parents have worked to take care of their family, attain citizenship, and contribute to the American economy, Arreola has adopted their work ethic as he advances his own education and plans a career. He hopes to work in the banking industry, and knows that the possibilities ahead of him are only due to his parents’ hard work and commitment to building a life in the United States.

Any entrepreneur that builds a business is building a better version of the American dream.

Because of his family’s experience, he believes the United States needs immigration reform that harnesses and welcomes the determination of those eager to work for the American dream and contribute to the economy. As an adult, he sees this every day in his hometown: In Arreola’s home district, in the southern San Joaquin Valley and Bakersfield region of California, there are more than 12,000 immigrant entrepreneurs, immigrant residents account for more than 35 percent of the population, and immigrants add $4.8 billion worth of spending power, according to New American Economy research.

“Any entrepreneur that builds a business is building a better version of the American dream,” he says. “That means more jobs, more profits, more opportunity. If an immigrant opens a business here, it could be the next big game changer. If we don’t give people the chance to embrace that opportunity, we miss out as a country.”

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