2019 Mid-Year Report

Dear Friends,

In 2019, we are committed to both creating better immigration policies at the local, state, and federal levels, and changing the way people think about immigration in America. Despite the challenging environment, we are heartened by the progress that we’ve made in places as diverse as Arkansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina. We’re excited to share some of this success with you and we hope that you will remain committed to helping us move forward. 

We expanded our immigrant integration work to more than 15 new cities, we have built out business coalitions in key states, and we have successfully advocated for smart federal and state immigration legislation, including big wins for Dreamers in conservative states.

This year we launched an entirely new Arts & Culture program, adding to our other three key programs – Research, National Advocacy, and State and Local – helping us reach a broader audience and make a bigger impact in all of our work.

Introducing NAE’s New Arts & Culture Program: Giving Our Data a Heartbeat


While NAE began as a think tank, and our original research still wields powerful results in making the case for immigration reform, it has become increasingly clear that to change the way certain populations think about immigration we need to give our data a heartbeat.

In January, New American Economy officially launched a new Arts and Culture program with the goal of reaching communities through shared experience rather than through political organizing or research. 

That includes building out our storytelling program and creating original content that highlights how immigrants lift up communities alongside their neighbors all across the country. PBS NewsHour previewed our short documentary about Mahira Patkovich, who initially struggled in grade school after fleeing the Bosnian War as a child and today is a successful small business owner who is helping to revitalize downtown Utica, New York. We produced another short documentary about Dr. Omar, originally from Mexico City, who brought much needed care to rural West Virginia and is changing the lives of community members. 

Our nationwide team of journalists document hundreds of individual stories showing the ways in which immigrants positively contribute to local businesses, industries, and communities. Thanks to this effort, in 2019, we have published over 80 unique pieces in over 90 congressional districts in both national and local news outlets, specifically targeting red and purple areas of the country.

Here are our top ten published stories, particularly in red and purple areas:

You can see more of NAE’s storytelling here.

In April, we partnered with ChowNow, a digital food ordering platform headquartered in Kansas City, and Open Belly, a podcast that explores Kansas City’s diverse food culture, to host a panel discussion with local immigrant food entrepreneurs, who also catered the event. It was hugely successful with over 100 people in attendance.

We co-presented Refugee is Not My Name, a multimedia art exhibit displayed in Austin, Texas at the State Capitol, which told the stories of local refugees alongside NAE’s original data and we co-sponsored the One Journey Festival, which uplifts refugees voices and celebrates their talent and contributions to their communities. Over 5,000 people attended, each receiving a festival map including our original data. Our team of journalists also placed this piece in conjunction with the festival about a Syrian refugee, who is an actor and recently became a citizen. 

NAE has been hard at work organizing our own festival, New American Festival (NAF), a first-of-its-kind celebration of immigrants’ contributions to American culture across art, food, film, comedy, and more that will launch this September in NYC the weekend before Citizenship Day. Throughout the fall, NAF will travel to cities where the narrative change is needed most, including Anchorage, Kansas City, Nashville, Houston, and Detroit.

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Cultivating New State & Local Partners to Advocate for Smart Immigration Policies

NAE's State & Local Initiatives Team Hosts a Chamber Convening

Our State and Local program allows us to move outside of Washington, DC and meet people where they are, working with civic and community leaders they trust to help them better understand and integrate their immigrant populations as well as advocate for policies that are positive for their businesses, industries, and communities. 

Since January, NAE has added 14 new cities – bringing our total number of active communities to over 80, 82% which are in red or purple states – to our pillar Gateways for Growth Program where we provide tailored research, technical assistance, and matching grants to help cities better understand their immigrant populations and design immigrant integration plans that help drive economic growth. 

This year, NAE has released research in the following cities: 

  • San Antonio, Texas: We partnered with the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to highlight immigrant contributions to the city and kick off their Gateways for Growth (G4G) strategic planning process. Notably, our report found that immigrants in San Antonio make up 30 percent of all entrepreneurs in the city.
  • Northern Kentucky: In Partnership with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and Duke Energy and Gateway Community and Technical College, we conducted and released their G4G report in preparation for their strategic planning process. The report illustrates the impact immigrants have on Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, and shows the outsized impact they have on the local economy and workforce. Foreign-born residents make up just 3.5 percent of the population but accounted for 4.2 percent of the business owners in the county in 2017.
  • Charlotte, North Carolina: In partnership with the City of Charlotte, we conducted and released their G4G report highlighting immigrants’ role in strengthening the local job market, including how immigrants helped to preserve or create 7,473 manufacturing jobs that would have either disappeared or moved by 2017. The launch of this research precipitated the first-ever City Compact on Immigration, showing that now, more than ever, cities and states are leading the charge on inclusive immigration policies.
  • Roanoke, Virginia: In partnership with the City of Roanoke and Local Colors, a non-profit that celebrates the city’s diversity, we conducted and released their G4G report in preparation for their strategic planning process. The report outlines how local immigrants strengthen the local job market by helping to preserve or create 545 manufacturing jobs that would have either disappeared or moved by 2017, and played a major role in vital industries, representing over 11 percent of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers, and nearly 14 percent of general services and construction workers.
  • Lowell, Massachusetts: In partnership with the Lowell Refugee and Immigrant Support and Engagement (RISE) Coalition and the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce, we conducted and released their G4G research in preparation for their strategic planning process. The report shows that immigrant households earned nearly $1.5 billion and contributed $402 million in taxes in 2017 and that immigrants helped revitalize the city—they were responsible for almost 90 percent of the area’s population growth between 2012 and 2017.

In addition, this year NAE has also helped cities and chambers release new research and start dialogues on building welcoming strategies in:

  • Asheville, North Carolina: We partnered with the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce to release new data that highlights how important immigrants are to Asheville’s economy and workforce, representing an outsize share of workers in the industries that need workers most, and responsible for nearly a quarter of the population growth in the metro area between 2011 and 2016.
  • North Texas (Dallas Metro Area): Just last week, NAE hosted a panel with local business and thought leaders to discuss immigration in North Texas and the results of an NAE research brief that found immigrants make up nearly 30 percent of North Texas’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers, and paid over $10 billion in taxes in 2017.
  • Contra Costa County, California: Local partners in the area, including the County Office of the Public Defender, Zellerbach Family Foundation, and Y & H Soda Foundation approached NAE to create a report to help them better understand their immigrant population with the goal of expanding immigrant integration policies and programs in the county, including creating an Office of New Americans. 

NAE has also worked with 22 states organizing local leaders for State Compacts on Immigration and business coalitions; supporting the Office of New Americans (ONA) State Network; and releasing legislative briefs and fact sheets to help support pro-immigrant state legislation and fight back against anti-immigrant state legislation. 

We have launched State Compacts on Immigration in five states (Texas, Iowa, Utah, Florida, and Colorado) with over 460 business and civic leaders signed on in total. Our most recent compact release, The Colorado Compact on Immigration, which has over 125 signatories, was marked by a launch event with featured remarks from Colorado Senators Bennet and Gardner, the Attorney General of Colorado, and the CEO of Western Union. 

In Texas, the Compact led to the creation of Texans for Economic Growth, an active 67-member business coalition that includes business and association leaders and 21 Chambers of Commerce throughout the state, which was crucial in our fight to beat back efforts to repeal The Texas Dream Act.

Cultivating new state and local partners through their Chambers of Commerce, civic leaders, and business leaders not only allows us to effect positive change on the ground, but lets us create a 50-state chorus when advocating for immigration reform in Washington, DC.

Moving the Needle on Legislation

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC

Through NAE’s work in cities and states across the country – organizing key constituencies to advocate for immigration reform and helping them better integrate and leverage their immigrant populations – and its innovative approach to storytelling specifically in red and purple areas, we have been able to make important legislative change. 

While Washington still remains gridlocked, NAE worked to achieve two major federal wins in the U.S. Housethe passage of the Dream and Promise Act, a historic bill that would provide for legal residency and a path to citizenship for Dreamers and TPS holders, and the Fairness For High-Skilled Immigrants Act, which eliminates the per-country cap for employment based green cards. 

As the House voted on the Dream and Promise Act, NAE released a new report detailing the economic contributions of the 1.3 million DACA-eligible people and the 318,000 TPS holders in the United States. Our analysis showed that in 2017, these immigrants contributed more than $5.5 billion in taxes, including almost $2.5 billion to state and local governments, leaving them with $25.2 billion in spending power. Our findings suggest that deporting TPS and DACA holders would not only result in serious disruption to millions of lives here in America, but it would also be a huge economic blow to communities across the country. 

NAE organized over 60 Chambers of Commerce and business leaders around the country to write an open letter to the U.S. House and Senate calling for the support of the Dream and Promise Act and placed op-eds in key states, including the following pieces:

Leading up to the vote on the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, NAE organized elected officials, Chambers of Commerce, business leaders, and community leaders in key states to write and place op-eds in their local media including:

On the state level, we supported the fight to expand in-state tuition to DACA students in Arkansas by releasing research that quantified the economic benefit of passing the measure.

In Texas, we beat back efforts to repeal in-state tuition for Dreamers through our Texas Compact on Immigration, Texans for Economic Growth business coalition, new research quantifying the economic cost of repeal, and placing op-eds throughout the state such as this piece in the Austin American Statesman and this piece in the Houston Chronicle

In Virginia, we helped halt two anti-sanctuary bills by providing research to the ACLU of Virginia and Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights that they used when fighting the bills in the state legislature. Our data was used by advoacy groups in veto letters to the Governor, who ultimately vetoed both bills.

Have You Seen NAE in the Press?

Check out our top 10 press mentions so far in 2019: 

  • The New York Times: Opinion: “I’m the Child of Immigrants. I’m Not Giving Up on the Republican Party”
  • Axios: “The U.S. industries dependent on immigrants”
  • Recode/Vox: “Visa approvals for tech workers are on the decline. That won’t just hurt Silicon Valley.
  • WNYC: “Immigrants Then vs. Now: Busting Misconceptions”
  • Forbes: “Burundi Refugees Bringing East African Cuisine To Detroit This Fall”
  • Quartz: “US immigrants pay billions of dollars in taxes each year”
  • PBS News Hour Weekend: New American Economy’s Andrew Lim discusses the positive impact refugees have across the United States. 
  • Axios: “Study: Immigrants and their kids founded 45% of U.S. Fortune 500 companies”
  • Utah’s KUER: “Utah Faces A Labor Shortage As Refugee Resettlement Declines”
  • MSNBC Velshi & Ruhle: This segment features NAE’s research on immigrants’ contributions to the U.S. economy in light of the introduction of the American Dream and Promise Act in the House.

Thank You

To all of our supporters, local partners, and funders, we thank you for believing in our mission and allowing us to do this important work.

We are grateful for your support.
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We have made significant strides in many tough-to-reach places and are working hard to continue this throughout the rest of 2019. 

We cannot wait to report back at the end of the year.


The NAE Team

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…