Oct 26, 2016 - 10:30am

Hamilton’s America Tells Us Something Important about Immigrants

Senior Manager, Research Policy, Labor, Immigration & Employee Benefits

The Tony-award winning Broadway hit Hamilton has made American history cool and become a pop culture phenomenon.

Tickets for the show are nearly impossible to come by both in New York City and in Chicago where it just started performing. It’s generated a Grammy-winning album and brings in $600,000 in profit a week.

Tapping into the insatiable interest in this musical phenomenon is PBS’ Hamilton’s America. The documentary, directed by Alex Horwitz, examines Alexander Hamilton through the lens of a behind-the-scene look at Hamilton’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway show, Hamilton.

Immigration plays a role in the story, and not only because Alexander Hamilton was himself an immigrant from the Caribbean island of Nevis.

In the documentary, Lin’s father, Luis Miranda, talks about his experience as an immigrant coming from Puerto Rico to New York City:

You know, in my experience, immigrants are never the lazy ones. They’re not the stupid ones. They’re the smart, hard workers ‘cause they have to work so much harder to make sense of their reality and succeed in that reality.

It is clear that the overall impact that immigrants have on the American economy is positive.

Nevertheless, there are all sorts of myths surrounding immigrants who come to this country. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Myths and Facts” report sets the record straight about the relationship of immigrants to jobs, wages, taxes, entrepreneurship, population, crime, integration, welfare, and border security.

Here are a few facts. Immigrants are…


Immigrants are more likely to start businesses than the native-born. Immigrants made up 28.5% of all new entrepreneurs in 2014—up from 13.3% in 1996.


As consumers, they spend money on goods and services, which in turn, leads to a net creation of jobs. A study by the University of Nebraska, Omaha estimated that spending by immigrants generated roughly 12,000 jobs for the state of Nebraska in 2006—including more than 8,000 jobs in the Omaha and Lincoln metropolitan areas.

Transforming Neighborhoods

Cities such as Dayton, Ohio; Nashville, Tenn.; Atlanta, Ga.; and Philadelphia, Pa. have recognized the importance of being a “welcoming community,” reaching out to immigrants as a means of igniting economic growth.

Since our nation’s founding, immigrants have revitalized our society by creating jobs, boosting consumerism, and enriching our communities through diversity. 

That should be music to anyone’s ears.

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About the Author

About the Author

Michael Billet Headshot
Senior Manager, Research Policy, Labor, Immigration & Employee Benefits

Michael Billet, senior manager of policy research at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, keeps members and internal Chamber policy staff abreast of pending labor, immigration, and health care legislation, as well as federal regulatory and subregulatory activities. He is also responsible for planning the Chamber’s annual workplace and community wellness forum.