My husband and I started to watch Louis Malle’s "…And The Pursuit Of Happiness Last Night" and it made me think about all the wonderful immigrants I have in my life. Malle’s movie was made in the mid-1980s. The conversation around immigration has evolved since then, for worse in my opinion, but the message of Malle’s film remains the same: immigrants make a country stronger.
Think about it. You have the most driven people on earth risking their lives so they can contribute to your economy. And because we make immigrants wait so long to become documented, we essentially lose the tax revenue that the vast majority of immigrants are so eager to pay. (But that’s a whole other issue that tax and immigration lawyers should write about more).
Most frequently, attacks against immigrants focus on the idea that they take jobs away from American citizens. Well, everyone takes a job from another person if you think of the workforce as a zero sum game. But what about all the immigrants who have started companies, provided jobs in their stores or invented products that spawn entire mini economies? I’m reminded of these immigrants every day. The deli on my corner, the CoFounder of Instagram, the women who take care of my child and enable me to work so I can place more women in jobs through PowerToFly.
Yes, the women helping me raise my daughter are immigrants and now they’re citizens. Ester is from the Philippines, Juanetta is from Jamaica, and Joan, who was with us for a couple months when my baby was first born, is also from Jamaica. I don’t have three babysitters all at once. Juanetta comes for two days and Ester comes for three.
And to avoid any suspicion of nanny tax evasion, I’ll tell you straight up that I pay them via W2. I don’t provide health care, although I have paid for certain visits to specialists when they couldn’t afford it. Now they are all beneficiaries of the Affordable Health Care Act. I need this kind of childcare so I can grow my business. Sheryl Sandberg makes the case in Lean In that investing in childcare is all about investing in your future. You may be spending more money on it now than you want to, but proper childcare allows a woman to build a career that will allow her to become a bigger bread winner.
Back to Ester, Juanetta and Joan. The reason I’m so happy to have these women in my child’s life is because they’re living proof of what it’s like to be your own startup.
They left everything to start a new life. My daughter is lucky. Like me, she won’t have to expel a huge amount of energy and resources on being an immigrant. She’s also lucky because she’s being influenced by women who know what true effort and risk is. And she’ll grow up understanding what helps makes this country stronger: immigrants.
Charlotte and Ester:
Charlotte and Juanetta:
Charlotte and Joan: