Immigrants and the Fortune 500: how Partnership for a New American Economy misleads (Bloomberg, Murdoch, Villaraigosa, Ballmer)

In June, the "Partnership for a New American Economy" ("PNAE") - a coalition of Big Business billionaires and Big City mayors - released a misleading report designed to promote massive immigration. The report claims that a large number of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, which is generally correct just as long as you look at it the right way and avoid discussing just how different things are now versus then.

The report is in this PDF file ('The "New American" Fortune 500', link); note that it's hosted on a government website. From their summary:

More than 40 percent of the 2010 Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. Even though immigrants have made up only 10.5 percent of the American population on average since 1850, there are 90 immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 18 percent of the list. When you include the additional 114 companies founded by the children of immigrants, the share of the Fortune 500 list grows to over 40 percent.

Do see the list of those involved below, and here are some notes:

1. If you included the children of the children of immigrants, no doubt it would grow even more. Apparently 18% wasn't good enough for them, so they had to really reach for the 40% number.

2. Some American leaders seem to think of their fellow citizens as somehow second-rate; the phrase "New Americans" (see this, this, this, this, this) implies somehow that "Old Americans" just aren't good enough. The spirit of such reports and those who promote them isn't Greatest Generation, it's more The Native Born Are Deadweight.

3. Some of those immigrants came to the U.S. a long time ago. DuPont is one of the "immigrant-founded" companies on their list, despite the fact that its founder arrived in the U.S. in 1799 and started the company a few years later. Alexander Graham Bell appears on the list twice (say it with statistics!); he became a naturalized U.S. citizen over 129 years ago.

4. At least one of the companies on the list does not appear to have been founded by an immigrant (or child thereof) at all: Intel. According to Intel's own Intel Museum (, in 1968 "Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore Found Intel". Andy Grove was their third employee and he was there from the beginning, but unless someone has contrary information he does not appear to be an actual founder. Both Noyce (born Iowa) and Moore (born San Francisco) are dreaded native-born Americans.

5. Several other companies on the list were only co-founded by immigrants (or children thereof). For just one example, Google was founded by two people, one of whom (Larry Page) is yet another dreaded native-born American (East Lansing, Michigan). How many other similar cases can you spot? PNAE's statistics would fall several percentage points if all the non-immigrant co-founders were taken into account. Why isn't PNAE hyping non-immigrant co-founders like Page and all the rest?

6. The list is a living, breathing example of the immigration tradition fallacy. PNAE implies that continued mass immigration will have the same impact in the future as it's had in the past, when that's not entirely clear (and it's probably wrong). The conditions in the U.S. have changed since those on the list (or their immigrant parents) came to the U.S., and those immigrating now may not be like those who came before. For instance, many of those on the list are either from the British Isles or are Ashkenazi Jews. The latter includes many Jewish immigrants (or the children thereof) who were fleeing prosecution in Europe. Neither group is immigrating to the U.S. in large numbers today or in the foreseeable future. Aside from a handful of people on the list from the Middle East (including Steve Jobs; despite being born in San Francisco he's listed as "Syria"; apparently he and many, many others are one of those "children thereof"), there are only a few people from southern Europe, just two people from Africa (both brothers named Patel, i.e., actually Indians), and zero people from Mexico, Central America, or South America. The people coming here now are dissimilar in many ways to those who came before, yet PNAE would have you think that past results are a guarantee of future results.

So, who's trying to mislead you? Who thinks of you as some form of second-class citizen in your own country? Here are the "Co-Chairs of the Partnership for a New American Economy":

* Steve Ballmer: CEO, Microsoft Corporation

* Michael Bloomberg: Mayor, New York City

* Julian Castro: Mayor, San Antonio

* Phil Gordon: Mayor, Phoenix

* Bob Iger: Chairman & CEO, Walt Disney Company

* Bill Marriott, Jr.: Chairman & CEO, Marriott International

* Jim McNerney: Chairman, CEO & President, Boeing

* Rupert Murdoch: Chairman, CEO & Founder, News Corporation (Fox News)

* Michael Nutter: Mayor, Philadelphia

* Antonio Villaraigosa: Mayor, Los Angeles

See most of those links for background information, especially Villaraigosa, Bloomberg, and Gordon.

Don't trust billionaires - or their racial power-mad lackeys - who mislead in order to support replacing you with New Americans.