Without a Syrian immigrant, your phone might not be as sophisticated as it is.
Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple — which helped pioneer the smartphone — is the son of a Syrian immigrant. His biological father, Abdul Fattah Jandali, fled the Middle East in 1952 and after making his way to Wisconsin University, fell in love with Joanne Carol Schieble. The two would eventually have a child, who was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. Jobs, as you know, would go on to become one of the most famous tech innovators of all time.
As amazing as that story might sound, it's not entirely unique. This week, Forbes profiled the 400 richest Americans. It turns out, 42 of them — more than 10 percent — are immigrants. That's the most ever on the Forbes 400 list. Fourteen of those immigrants are richer than Donald Trump, the famous business mogul who is running for president on a platform that would build a wall on the southern border and make immigrating to America far more difficult.
All combined, the 42 immigrants have a net worth of $250 billion. Six are from Israel, five are from India, four are from Hungary, and four are from Taiwan.
The wealthiest of all those immigrants is Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, with a net worth of $37.5 billion. Brin left Russia when he was 6 years old as his family tried to avoid anti-Semitism, something that has ironically become a feature of this year's election. Once Brin accomplished his wealth as Google exploded, he decided to donate $1 million to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, an organization that helps Jews escape anti-Semitism and helped his family.
"I would have never had the kinds of opportunities I've had here in the Soviet Union, or even in Russia today," Brin said in a 2009 interview with The New York Times. "I would like to see anyone be able to achieve their dreams, and that's what this organization does."
Jobs, Brin and the list of 42 immigrants on Forbes 400 should remind everyone that many immigrants come to the United States to find work, create, and make a better life for themselves. Many of them are wildly successful chasing that ambition.
Another of those 42 listed is Romesh Wadhwani, an India-born immigrant who founded Symphony Technology Group and is now a U.S. citizen worth $3 billion. He ranked 222 amongst the Forbes wealthiest 400 Americans list, and recently spoke to the publication about immigration policy.
"Virtually every major wave of economic growth that has happened in the US has been enabled by immigrants from other countries," Wadhwani said. "Whether they came from Europe or from India or from other parts of the world. I think immigration has continued to revitalize the U.S."
Wadhwani is right: Even outside the amazing entrepreneurs like him, Jobs and Brin, there is loads of evidence that immigrants are great for the economy and good at creating jobs.
"I think America needs immigrants and immigrants need America," Wadhwani said. "If immigration policies are structured the right way, it would contribute hugely to America's continued leadership and role."
Cover photo: Wikicommons